the factory danone in Parets del Valles (Barcelona) celebrate this year 40th anniversary about to complete a renovation process that has meant a investment of 22.7 million euros and that has made it the only hybrid plant in the group, which produces both dairy products like their vegetable alternatives.
The factory has been a pioneer in many Danone products since its inception, due to its proximity to the Spanish headquarters and the Barcelona R&D center. From Parets came the first Danacolland was also a testing ground for Actimelamong other examples.
Currently, it produces 80,000 tons per year of 132 references of the brands Activate, Oikos, Vitalinea Y AlproY exports 23% of production to more than 10 European countries. It does so on six production lines with 160 workers: five from dairy (which account for 85% of the volume) and one from vegetable alternatives (15%).
Parets debuted in vegetable alternatives to yogurt in 2021, with an investment of 12 million to install a new production line for references based on coconut and oats. At the beginning of this 2022, a line of soy-based products has been added that has meant an injection of four million more.
In addition, in 2023 a project of digitization for 6.7 million euros, which has involved the complete automation of the warehouse (with robots that autonomously move the materials from the shelves to the production line) and improvements in flows and processes to improve cost and production efficiency.
Thanks to digitization projects, Parets has reduced emissions by 16% in two years generated for each ton of product, which is equivalent to more than 2,000 tons of CO2, and has cut water consumption by 27% per ton of product.
The Catalan factory is characterized by its flexibility, which will make it possible to increase the weight of the production of vegetable alternatives if demand requires it. And it is that, for example, coconut-based references are growing at a rate of 200%, says Víctor Sales, Director of Operations at Danone Iberia.
In general, Danone has its own “unicorn” in Alpro (its vegetable alternatives brand, which it bought in 2016), in the words of Laia Mas, director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Danone Iberia. In 2017, Alpro invoiced 1,500 million euros, which in 2020 was already 2,200.
According to data from Danone, Spain is the third European market for vegetable drinks and is in the top 5 for alternatives to yogurt. Today, 58% of Spaniards consume vegetable alternatives to dairy, and of these, 98% combine them with traditional dairy products, in line with the rise of flexitarianism.
The modernization and improvements in efficiency of Parets are allowing the facilities to mitigate part of the current cost increase, and its continuity is guaranteed in the medium term, while Danone has decided this year close the plant in Asturias, whose production will be assumed by France. Along with Parets, the Spanish dairy plants of Tres Cantos (Madrid) and Aldaya (Valencia) continue.