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Reinventing Simple Food Staples Through a Focus on Health and Nutrition

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Pierre Morin

Vice President of Research & Innovation, Danone Canada

A Q&A with Danone Canada VP Pierre Morin about the deep research and innovation behind the simple health foods we love.

Feeding the planet is an inherently scientific endeavour. As our society shifts towards a renewed appreciation of naturally nutritious foods, it can be easy to imagine the science and technology of the food industry falling away, but nothing could be further from the truth. Even our simplest and most timeless food products contain undiscovered secrets, new learnings that can be applied in our ever-growing understanding of human nutrition. Human beings had already been making and eating yogurt for millennia before the first stone of the Great Pyramids at Giza was laid, and yet food scientists continue to research, refine, and innovate upon this ancestral food in remarkable ways even today.


We sat down with Pierre Morin, Vice President of Research and Innovation at Danone Canada to ask a few questions about how researchers are constantly reimagining, rediscovering, and reinventing one of mankind’s oldest health foods for today’s nutritional and social context.

How has scientific understanding of human nutrition changed in recent years, and how has this understanding influenced the development of Danone products?

From our first yogurts, which were sold in pharmacies, to some of the best-selling dairy and plant-based yogurts available across Canada —including Activia, Oikos, Two Good, and Silk — our approach has been anchored in science and we are constantly innovating to meet the changing preferences of Canadians to lead healthier lives. Consumers have become increasingly savvy when it comes to ensuring the products they purchase for themselves and their families meet their nutritional needs. They are more critical, and more educated, than ever when it comes to what they’re consuming.

The recent introduction of Two Good Greek yogurt in Canada is a direct response to the growing consumer demand for nutrient-rich food choices. Each 95-gram serving packs a substantial nutritional punch, delivering eight grams of protein while keeping sugar content remarkably low at just two grams.

In what ways has this increased nutritional awareness within the Canadian population shifted the food choices Canadians make?

With 40 per cent of Canadians actively seeking to integrate more plant-based foods into their diets, the rise of nutritional consciousness has influenced their food choices considerably. This reflects a national trend towards more plant-forward diets that offer flexibility and adaptability to various lifestyles, including vegetarian, vegan, and particularly flexitarian. Consumers of all ages are also turning to more high protein products to support their dietary needs, so we are continuously tuned into new ways to lead the way in that space whether that is through Oikos or Silk.

During the recipe development process for Silk Nextmilk, we thoroughly studied the beloved dairy taste attributes and engaged in robust testing, trying out hundreds of high-quality plant-based ingredient pairings to best recreate the taste of dairy.

Are Canadians’ taste preferences changing along with their perspectives on nutrition and sustainability?

In recent years, Canadian consumers have shown an evolving appreciation for different flavour profiles, with a notable shift towards enjoying less sweetened, more natural flavours. There’s also an increased consumer interest in natural yogurt offerings, which are versatile for cooking or pairing with granola. Our Research and Innovation team closely monitors these changing taste preferences to ensure our brands like Activia and Oikos evolve accordingly. We have responded to this shift by strategically reducing added sugar by 30 per cent across our dairy and plant-based products.

Reflecting on our recent introduction of Two Good, it’s not only a product that tastes good, but it’s also one that does good. The brand is partnering to combat food waste with Canada’s largest food recovery organization, Second Harvest, to provide 83,000 rescued meals to Canadians from coast to coast all while supporting a more waste-conscious food system that discards less food, while nourishing more people.  

Visit danone.ca/our-products to learn more.

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