Danone: Feeding 3.5 million babies from Brabant each day

After more than a century in Brabant, Nutricia recently opened Europe’s largest baby milk powder factory in Cuijk. Parent company Danone invested € 240 million in the state-of-the-art, zero-waste production plant. Site director Sijmon Hage: "This is the perfect place to make specialized baby foods.”

16 December 2019

Founded in 1896, Nutricia is part of the leading Paris-headquartered foods company Danone. Nutricia’s products range from baby foods to special clinical nutrition and diet products. Its new production facility in Cuijk is the largest baby milk powder factory in Europe, and also makes specialized infant formula, for example for children with cow’s milk allergy or reflux. Hage: “We make no fewer than 600 different products here, feeding 3.5 million babies in more than 90 countries each day.”

Expanding in Brabant

Nutricia has been producing dairy-related products in Cuijk since 1916. A few years ago, Danone started exploring options for a new production plant to meet growing global demand. The company initially also considered other European countries, as well as alternative regions in the Netherlands. But Brabant turned out to be the most logical choice.

The Netherlands is a leading dairy country, and Brabant is ideal for export because of its location. It also helps that it’s not far away from our international research center Danone Nutricia Research in Utrecht.

Sijmon Hage, Site Director - Danone

The local availability of talent also played a major role in choosing this location. The new factory employs around 500 people. “We really need specialist knowledge and skills in our factory and our people in Cuijk are just very good at this,” says Hage. “We also cherish our partnerships with the Laboratory School and TechnoPromo in Cuijk, which are instrumental in getting more young people interested in foods production and technology and thereby creating a talent pool for the future.”

Double capacity

It was clear from the outset that the new production plant would have double the capacity of the old factory. “It’s not easy to find the right place for such a huge factory,” notes Fons Janssen, sustainability manager at Nutricia Cuijk.

At the end of 2014, BOM Foreign Investments got involved. Janssen: “They helped us find this location. But they also played an important role in the early consultations with the province and the municipality of Cuijk, which gave us a good picture of all wishes and expectations. This saved us a lot of time when applying for a permit.”

‘One Planet. One Health’

Encouraged by the mission of parent company Danone (‘One Planet. One Health’), sustainability was paramount in the design of the new plant. The new location uses 60% less water and emits 50% less CO2. In addition, Nutricia has the ambition to fully switch to renewable energy. “We cannot generate all the required energy ourselves,” says Janssen. “Therefore, BOM Renewable Energy is helping us find local green energy suppliers.”

The construction in Cuijk started in 2016. Three years later – on March 25, 2019 – the plant was officially opened. Hage: “With this factory we are ready for another 100 years of baby nutrition from Brabant.”

Danone in numbers

  • Founded: 1919, while Nutricia’s roots date back to 1896
  • Employees: 105,783 (2018)
  • Revenue: € 24.65 billion (2018)
  • Activities in Brabant: production of high-quality baby nutrition under the Nutricia brand name
  • Workforce in Cuijk: around 500 FTE