PARIS — Investments in its essential dairy and plant-based protein (EDP) business began to pay off for Danone SA in the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2023, company executives said, while foreign exchange rates cut into financial results.

Danone had net income of €881 million ($953 million), equal to €1.36 ($1.47) per share, which was down 8% from €959 million, or €1.48 per share, in the previous fiscal year. Sales of €27.62 billion ($29.89 billion) were down 0.2% from €27.66 billion as foreign exchange had a negative impact of 4.3%, reflecting the depreciation of most currencies against the euro. On a like-for-like basis, net sales increased 7%. Price rose 7.4% while volume/mix declined 0.4%.

In North America, sales increased 2.6% to €6.89 billion in the fiscal year but fell 2% in the fourth quarter to €1.73 billion. Volume/mix showed resilience, led by coffee creamers and Greek yogurt, said Antoine Bernard de Saint-Affrique, chief executive officer of Danone, in a Feb. 22 earnings call.

“In our plant based in the US, we see the first benefit of the corrective action we took last year to restore competitiveness, reflecting on our market shares, but we are not yet where we want to be,” he said. “We reworked our positioning and translated it into another great advertising you might have seen around the Super Bowl. We have further improved our product quality (and) also the way we execute with a much clearer focus on key consumption moments and on category penetration.”

Danone ran ads for the brands Silk, Stök and Oikos around and during the National Football League’s Super Bowl that took place Feb. 11.

Sales in Europe rose 5.8% to €9.38 billion in the fiscal year and 6.6% to €2.31 billion in the fourth quarter. In the quarter, like-for-like sales growth was 6% and volume/mix returned to positive territory at 0.3%.

“This was largely driven by EDP, where we start to see the expected benefits from the transformation, which we kicked off in the second semester of year 2022,” said Juergen Esser, chief financial, technology and data officer. “The team has made great progress in upgrading our portfolio, has been discontinuing a number of non-competitive SKUs, defined clear swim lanes for our brands with a focus on segments like functionality, indulgence, kids and everyday nutrition.

“In this fourth quarter, we are particularly pleased with the performance of a number of our key brands, including Actimel, YoPro and the Danone brands.”

In the EDP business globally, fiscal-year sales of €14.32 billion ($15.50 billion) were down 3.2% although like-for-like sales increased 6.6%. In Specialized Nutrition, fiscal-year sales rose 2.2% to €8.50 billion. In Waters, sales rose 5.5% to €4.79 billion.

In the fourth quarter, Danone companywide had sales of €6.65 billion, down 5% from €7.01 billion. On a like-for-like basis, sales increased 5% due to a 4.3% increase in price and a .08% increase in volume/mix.

Danone in the current fiscal year expects inflation to ease and like-for-like sales growth in a range of 3% to 5%.

“I mean there is disinflation in the market, meaning the increase of prices have moderated, but there is still inflation,” de Saint-Affrique said. “I mean there is inflation on our salary. There is inflation still on a number of raw materials. There is also quite a bit of volatility, some of it linked to geopolitical events. So we expect to have price components into our growth.”