Danone ANZ’s new GM on addressing ‘contrasting trends’ in specialized nutrition and delivering locally-relevant food choices

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

Kathy Cavill, general manager for Danone in Australia and New Zealand. Image: Danone
Kathy Cavill, general manager for Danone in Australia and New Zealand. Image: Danone

Related tags Danone appointments early life nutrition Nutrition Australia New zealand

We speak to Kathy Cavill, Danone’s new general manager for Australia and New Zealand, as she reveals some of her plans for the company.

Cavill succeeds Rodrigo Lima, who was promoted to president and representative director of Danone Japan & Korea. Her career at the company spans more than 12 years and she is the first general manager to have risen to the position from within Danone ANZ’s ranks. Prior to the GM role, Cavill was marketing director for over two years and prior to that, she served as sales director. Cavill's journey at Danone also saw her take up the position of business unit director in paediatrics, and channel development director (export) for over three years. Her early years at the company were marked by her first role as marketing director in early life nutrition.

DairyReporter: You’ve led several departments before taking up your current role. How will your experience across the business inform your strategy going forward? What would you focus your efforts on as the company’s new GM in the short and the long term?

Kathy Cavill: Having been with Danone for 12 years, I am extremely inspired by our mission of “bringing health through food to as many people as possible”. As a company, we commit to having a positive impact on health, the planet and people & communities. My efforts as GM will be focused on living and breathing our mission and commitments here in Australia and New Zealand, and on putting consumers, customers and patients at the centre of what we do to help us deliver healthier, more sustainable food and drink choices that are locally-relevant and meaningful to Aussies and Kiwis.

DR: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the company, particularly with regards to specialized nutrition?

KC: The dynamics of our nation are changing significantly, with declining fertility rates, increasing life expectancies and an incredibly diverse cultural landscape. With almost 8 in 10 Aussies and Kiwis saying their health and wellbeing is a priority, people are living longer and healthier, as well as living smarter thanks to technology. These shifts open up opportunities to deliver a more personalised experience when it comes to health and the role nutrition can play in managing health throughout different life stages. 

DR: Danone ANZ recently released a dairy and plant milk blend for early life. Besides plant-based products, what are some of the key market drivers in the early life nutrition market right now and what opportunities are you exploring strategically in that segment?

KC: Today’s generation of parents and carers are looking for products and services that can help simplify their busy lives and give them confidence that they’re doing the best for their little ones. With our market-leading early life nutrition portfolio, we’re constantly looking at innovation in products, formats and services that can help support parents and carers to navigate this critical life stage and all of the changes and unknowns that come with it.     

DR: Specialized nutrition has been one of the best performing segments for Danone in recent years. What are the next big trends in the segment and how is your company working towards addressing these – in terms of R&D, product development?

KC: The changing dynamic of our population means we’re seeing a number of contrasting trends emerging. On the one hand, we’re seeing the healthcare system under pressure due to the ageing population and the increased frequency of age-related chronic diseases. On the other hand, we’re seeing a growing trend for preventative health and early identification of risk factors, which may in turn be used to help prevent disease and reduce the healthcare burden. Mental health and wellbeing is becoming an increasing concern amongst young and old, whereas technology is enabling personalisation in healthcare and nutrition, as well as a more efficient way to connect the healthcare ecosystem of patient, healthcare professional and carer. At Danone, we have over 1,700 world-class experts across Europe, Asia and America focusing on how Danone can contribute to the improvement of public health through scientific research, education and innovation.   

DR: On sustainability, Danone ANZ has made several notable improvements over the years in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint, but how do you see the company’s path to net-zero as a GM? How would you lead to improve these metrics further, and what are some of the challenges ahead?

KC: Our aspiration to reach net zero by 2050 is expressed through the Danone Impact Journey – a clear set of goals framing our global sustainability ambition. We have already embarked on this journey in Australia and New Zealand by defining a clear roadmap for 1.5°C reduction by 2030. This will be driven through multi-level stakeholder engagement, yielding focused action plans and investment priorities to guide the business.

Challenges along the way include cost as well as embedding scalable action across the emissions value chain. Having said that, I believe there are opportunities for collaboration and key partnerships to make a meaningful impact towards our local net zero journey and that there is power in the collective as we strive towards a common goal. I look forward to leading the change in this space by embedding a sustainability culture and engaging industry partnerships on the path to net zero.

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