Just days after Nestle Waters announced plans to expand its home and office delivery (HOD) business in France with the acquisition of the Saphir company there, Danone has also extended its presence in the HOD market, this time in Canada.
The French group, which owns the Evian and Volvic brands among others, has acquired the Quebec-based Patrimoine des Eaux du Quebec, the number three player in Canada's HOD market, for an undisclosed sum.
The acquisition was carried out by Danone's Canadian subsidiary, Labrador Laurentiennes, which will add Patrimoine des Eaux du Quebec's Naturo brand to its portfolio. Naturo accounted for the majority of the Quebec group's 70 million litres sold in 2001.
Danone said it was already the leader of the HOD market in Canada, with a strong presence in the Montreal region, making Patrimoine des Eaux du Quebec - which is strongest in Quebec City, the other main city in French-speaking Canada - the perfect fit and allowing Danone to reinforce both its national and regional leadership.
The acquisition is part of Danone's ongoing strategy of strengthening its position in the HOD market throughout North America.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in North America, Nestle Waters has won a key victory in its ongoing battle to bottle Ice Mountain Spring Water from Michigan.
A group called Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) had taken Nestle Waters North America to court, contending that the unit of the Swiss group had no right to bottle the water because it violated a piece of legislation called the Public Trust Doctrine designed to protect America's waterways.
But a judge in Mecosta County, Michigan, has ruled that the withdrawal of groundwater for bottling and sale is a lawful use of water, provided that other people using water from the same source are not harmed by the company doing so. He also said that the Public Trust Doctrine could only be used to protect water from the effects of commercial shipping and/or commercial log flotation.
"Extensive hydrogeologic and environmental evaluations have confirmed Ice Mountain's water withdrawals will have no adverse impact to area water users or the environment," said Jane Lazgin, spokesperson for Nestle Waters North America.
The ruling was the third in favour of Nestle Waters North America in Michigan. In a ruling last year, the courts rejected MCWC's request to halt construction of the Ice Mountain plant; another case, brought in federal court by three bands of Michigan Indians, was dismissed in May 2002.
In May, Nestle Waters North America opened a bottling facility in Mecosta County for its Ice Mountain brand, which is sold in the Mid-West. The plant is expected to employ 200 people at full operation. The plant and spring source operations meet or exceed all local, state and federal requirements, including regulations for quality control, labeling, and water withdrawals, the company said.