PARIS — Market share for Danone SA’s plant-based business in the United States is “sequentially stabilizing,” but the company still has work to do, said Juergen Esser, chief financial, technology and data officer and group deputy chief executive officer.

“We went a bit too far in terms of pricing last year,” he said in an April 18 corporate sales call to discuss first quarter financial results. “We need to price correct that and to be again competitive versus competition. We did that at the back end of the Q4.”

In Europe, Danone is focusing on consumption occasions and away-from-home channels.

“So we are using the same playbook now for the US, and so we are confident that we will see better dynamics as we will travel through the year,” Esser said.

Companywide, Paris-based Danone in the quarter had sales of €6.79 billion ($7.24 billion), which was down 2.5% from €6.96 billion in the previous year’s first quarter. Like-for-like sales increased 4.1%, and volume/mix rose 1.2%. Negative impacts came from the deconsolidation of essential dairy and plant-based protein (EDP) in Russia and foreign exchange rates. 

In Danone’s EDP business, sales of €3.47 billion ($3.70 billion) were down 8% from €3.77 billion. Like-for-like sales growth was 3%. Volume/mix increased 0.8%.

“As a testimony to the effectiveness of the portfolio revamping we executed last year, this Q1 performance was largely driven by our key brands, including Actimel, Danone International Delight, Oikos, YoPro and Alpro,” Esser said.

In specialized nutrition, first-quarter sales of €2.18 billion were up 1.9% from €2.14 billion. Like-for-like sales growth was 3.8%. Volume/mix increased 0.3%.

In waters, sales jumped 8% to €1.13 billion from €1.05 billion. Like-for-like sales growth was 8%. Volume/mix increased 3.9%. The Mizone brand in China largely drove the increase, Esser said.

In North America, sales increased 1.3% to €1.74 billion from €1.71 billion. Like-for-like sales growth was 2.8%. Volume/mix increased 0.1%.

“Performance of North America was primarily driven by our coffee creations and high-protein yogurt businesses both in US and in Canada,” Esser said, adding coffee creations gained market share led by the brands International Delight and Stōk.

“In yogurt, our high-protein proposition Oikos Black continues to grow strong double digits driven by further expansion of shelf space, strong consumer demand, notably supported by our successful Super Bowl campaign,” Esser said.

During the earnings call, Esser was asked about any brand boycotts in Muslim-based countries, given the geopolitical situation in the Middle East.

“When it comes to boycotts or the direct or indirect consequences of what’s happening particularly in the Middle East region, we’re obviously monitoring that very closely,” he said. “So far, we could not see significant impact on our business.”