Danone | Company History

Danone’s history

Jude Delisle went into business in the early 1930’s. Starting out as a cottage industry, his fresh dairy product business began to rapidly expand with the construction of a plant in Boucherville, Quebec in 1968. Today Danone is Canada's industry leader, with distinctive values that have helped it achieve a level of performance excellence year after year.

A cottage industry

Jude Delisle was born in 1888 in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. During a trip to France, he discovered yogurt and its healthy benefits. Two years later, he received help from the Pasteur Institute and acquired lactic starter. He was now prepared to begin yogurt production for himself.

Delisle set up business in Montreal, first in a little workshop on Duluth Street and then, in 1951, in more spacious quarters on Berri Street. With the move he increased his production from 20 tubs of yogurt a day to 4,000. His first buyers were doctors who prescribed yogurt as a medication, and Montrealers of European descent, who were soon enthusiastically spreading the word.

Delisle's advertising included advertising and packaging that trumpeted yogurt's beneficial effects on digestion. Little by little, the product began to interest a growing customer base. This is when visionary businessman Leslie Jonas joined the Delisle adventure.

A going concern

Leslie Jonas acquired Delisle in 1963. At that time, the market was just being introduced to fresh-fruit yogurt. With annual revenues of $90,000, Delisle was the fourth largest yogurt producer. To increase its competitive edge, the company concentrated on quality, innovation, distribution and marketing, and developing employee skills.

By 1967, Delisle had become the leading yogurt producer in Canada. In 1968, industrial production was being handled in the company's modern facility in Boucherville. The competition was fierce and the business was kept on a solid growth trajectory by a continuous introduction of new products and going into new markets.

In 1975, Silhouette, the first fat-free yogurt, was launched. Revenues exceeded $40 million in 1980. In 1993, Delisle joined the Danone Group and began its quest to conquer the market in Western Canada. Delisle became Danone Canada four years later in 1997.

The golden age

In 2004, the launch of Activia marked a significant turning point in the history of Danone in Canada, as it was the first of a new generation of yogurts containing probiotic cultures. It was the subject of numerous clinical trials and its cultures are scientifically proven to survive passage through the digestive system and play a vital role in the intestinal ecosystem.

In 2009, Danone invested massively in its plant to produce DanActive, a probiotic drinkable yogurt that contributes to healthy gut flora.
In 2011, Danone in Canada introduced OIKOS, a thick and creamy Greek yogurt. Its rich, smooth texture and unique tangy taste is a result of a careful straining method inspired by Greek tradition.
In 2014, Danone innovated with the launch of Danette, a dairy dessert made of fresh Canadian milk. Danette is new to Canada, but it has a long history of being one of France’s favourite family desserts. Danette is being sold in 27 countries over the past 40 years.

2015 was marked by the launch of YoCrunch, a great option for families looking for an indulgence at the end of a meal that is more nutritious than many other popular desserts.

Year after year, Danone in Canada invests millions of dollars in its Boucherville plant contributing to the economic development of the region. We believe that food plays a major role in promoting health and well-being for everyone. Health and Nutrition are at the cornerstone of our business model and, with brands such as Activia, DanActive, Oikos, Danino, Danone, Danette & YoCrunch, Danone in Canada is the country’s top yogurt producer.