Actimel packaging

Danone is introducing Actimel packaging with a vitamin-based health claim

Danone is repositioning Actimel with a vitamin-based health claim that will see its patented L.casei probiotic culture relegated to a passing mention on packs.

The focus on fortification marks a major departure for the French giant, which has historically used L.casei as Actimel’s unique selling point.

However, it has struggled to explain the functional benefits of consuming Actimel ever since the European Food Safety Authority put a stop to ‘probiotic’ health claims last year. 

Instead, Danone will now focus on Actimel’s vitamin content. The drinks previously contained vitamins B6 and D, but Danone has now also added vitamin C to Actimel fruit flavours, and redesigned the packs to feature the health claim “with vitamins B6, D and new vitamin C to support the normal function of the immune system”. It is also renaming Actimel as Actimel+ to highlight its newly added vitamin C.

L.casei is now mentioned only in passing, with bottles saying “also contains L.casei cultures”.

A spokesman for Danone said the repositioning marked the first time Actimel had carried a specific health claim relating to the beneficial properties of vitamins, but added the new claim was consistent with Actimel’s historical brand message. “The health benefits of such vitamins and their contribution to supporting the immune system have been authorised by the EC,” he added.

Separately, Groupe Danone revealed this week it was on course to lose €350m in sales as a result of the Fonterra whey recall in August, as it announced its results for the third quarter.

The recall – which turned out to be a false alarm – was initiated after three batches of Fonterra whey protein concentrate tested positive for a bacteria that can cause botulism.