In light of the continued Russian invasion of Ukraine, food manufacturer Danone has suspended investments in Russia, and has closed one of its two Ukrainian factories.
In a statement, General Secretary Laurent Sacchi said the food giant – which operates the Prostokvashino dairy brand in both countries, among others – was “deeply affected” by the invasion.
“Since the beginning of the conflict, our first priority has been for the safety of our employees in Ukraine, with whom we remain in constant contact,” said Sacchi. “We continue to be moved by their bravery.”
The same statement explained that both of its Ukrainian factories had initially been shut down, but one has “since managed to resume operations”. This is important, he explained, to maintain production and distribution of “fresh dairy products and infant nutrition” to still meet essential food needs of local people.
Employees working at the closed factory have been offered shelter and aid from colleagues working in the neighbouring countries of Poland and Romania, according to Sacchi.
He added: “We have received many messages of generosity and solidarity from ‘Danoners’ all over the world who are asking how they can help. We will work to support them in their offers and expand on their actions and initiatives.“
Danone is one of many global businesses pulling out of Russia as it continues its attack. In the last week, British supermarket chains like Sainsbury’s have announced a suspension of activities in Russia and the sale of goods originating from the country, like vodka and certain varieties of sunflower seeds.
Food giant Nestlé has temporarily closed three factory in Ukraine.
Others have announced significant donations to organisations helping with relief and refuge efforts. Danone itself has donated €500,000 (around £415,000) to the Red Cross, according to Sacchi.
Conversely, some food and beverage companies are drawing ire for not pulling out of the country. In particular, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are being urged to close their 847 stores and 10 bottling plants in Russia respectively.
Echoing the sentiment shared by many, Sacchi also highlighted how the ongoing attack might affect access to food moving forward.
“This war could last for a long time,” he warned, adding, “it will lead to increasing difficulties for the population affected to get hold of basic goods.”
Among the most pressing issues, the global supply of wheat is expected to seize up soon – given that Russia and Ukraine account for around 29% of all wheat exports.
Sacchi said: “We continue to monitor and assess, in real time, how the situation evolves and will, of course, apply the decisions of the French authorities with whom we remain closely coordinated.”