How Daniel Carasso built a business empire from yogurt

On this day, December 16 in the year 1905, the entrepreneur who brought modern yogurt to the world was born in Thessaloniki, Greece. His name was Daniel Carasso, the man who built Groupe Danone to become one of the largest food companies in the world.

Daniel Carasso
Daniel Carasso (Credit:

Daniel Carasso was the son of a Jewish immigrant to Spain who created and marketed yogurt in Barcelona with the help of Professor Elie Metchnikoff, a Nobel laureate in medicine. The product was made from fermented milk and sold under the name Danone, a play on the name Daniel in the Catalan language.

At age 18, Daniel Carasso went to Marseilles, France to study business. Later, he enrolled at the Pasteur Institute to learn bacteriology in order to better understand yogurt. After his studies, he introduced Danone yogurt to the French. He sold the product in porcelain pots, advertising it as food for good digestion.

When the Germans occupied France during World War II, he and his wife fled to the United States. There, he purchased a Greek-run yoghurt factory and renamed it Dannon Company. Aside from yogurt, the company also produced and sold strawberry jam which immediately became a bestseller. After the war, the couple returned to France and continued to grow the business. In the succeeding years, he built plants in other countries such as Mexico and Argentina. In 1967, he made a successful bid for the cheese company Gervais and merged with packaging firm BSN in 1973. A decade later, all operations were put under Groupe Danone. Later on, other products such as mineral water and baby foods were added.

Daniel Carasso died in 2009 at the age of 103. He had a daughter with his wife Nina. In 2019, Groupe Danone had revenues of over $29 billion and market value of $45 billion as of December, 2020.


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