The original company bearing the corporate name was founded in 1919 by Isaac Carasso in Barcelona as a small factory producing yoghurt. The brand was named Danone, after his son Daniel Carasso: in Catalan, Danon is a nickname, meaning "Little Daniel".
Ten years later, the company moved from Spain to neighboring France, and the first French factory was built. During the German occupation of France during World War II, Daniel moved the company to New York . Daniel partnered with the Swiss-born Spaniard Joe Metzger and changed the brand name to Dannon
In 1951, Daniel Carasso returned to Paris to manage the family's businesses in France and Spain, and the American business was sold in 1959. In Europe in 1967, Danone merged with Gervais, the leading fresh cheese producer in France, and became Gervais Danone.
Another branch of the Groupe Danone descended from industrial glassmaker Boussois-Souchon-Neuvesel (BSN), which was founded by the family of Antoine Riboud. After a failed attempted takeover battle for its larger rival Saint-Gobain, Riboud transformed it into one of Europe's leading food groups in the 1970s through a series of acquisitions and mergers, including the 1973 merger with Gervais Danone.
The acquisitions initially took the shape of vertical integration, acquiring Alsatian brewer Kronenbourg and Evian mineral water who were the glassmaker's largest customers. This move provided content with which to fill the factory's bottles. In 1973, the company merged with Gervais Danone and began to expand internationally. In 1979, the company abandoned glassmaking by disposing of Verreries Boussois. In 1987, Gervais Danone acquired European biscuit manufacturer Général Biscuit, owners of the LU brand, and, in 1989, it bought out the European biscuit operations of Nabisco.
In 1994, BSN changed its name to Groupe Danone, adopting the name of the group’s best-known international brand. Franck Riboud succeeded his father, Antoine, as the company's chairman and chief executive officer in 1996 when Riboud senior retired. Under Riboud junior, the company continued to pursue its focus on three product groups (dairy, beverages, and cereals) and divested itself of several activities which had become non-core.
Despite these divestitures, Danone continues to expand internationally in its three core business units, emphasising health and well-being products.
In July 2007, a €12.3 billion cash offer by Danone for the Dutch baby food and clinical nutrition company Numico was agreed to by both boards, creating the world's second largest manufacturer of baby food.
Danone has now over 90 years of history and experience,and first started as a yoghurt company in Barcelona, Spain. Driven by leaders with a unique vision, passion for innovation, and customer’s health, a series of mergers and acquisitions contributed to Danone's success as an international food company like no other.