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April 2, 2010

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Growth a means, not an end

CONGRATULATIONS to the city of Shanghai on the enormous achievement of mounting the World Expo 2010 Shanghai. This event has already proven to be a great success, and the doors have not even opened yet. The unprecedented level of investment made by the different participating countries and companies is a testimony to both the importance of this event and of China in a world forever changed by the economic crisis. This event will firmly establish Shanghai as a world-class destination for businesses and thought leaders.

The great success Shanghai has had in creating such a colossal event has special meaning to Danone. From the beginning stages of the bidding process Danone supported Shanghai for World Expo 2010 because we believed having this dynamic and capable city as host would lead to an incredibly successful event. Speaking on behalf of my entire company, I would like the Shanghai government to know that we are proud and humbled by the level of vision, savvy and organization Shanghai has demonstrated in bringing together this awe inspiring event.

Organizing and running an event on this scale has undoubtedly increased Shanghai's capabilities exponentially. For years to come, Shanghai's business, education, infrastructure, innovative thinking and communities will reap the benefits of the skills learned by taking on this incredible opportunity for both Shanghai and the world.

Shanghai's leaders demonstrated true vision when they selected a theme that looked to a hopeful and better future without knowing that the economic crisis was on the way. "Better City, Better Life" represents the hope of a sustainable tomorrow for generations to come.

However, "Better City, Better Life" extends far beyond the new technology and innovations displayed at the Expo; it also represents a much greater responsibility to bring together the Earth's greatest minds to envision a better world. This world is one that takes into consideration both economic development and the well-being of mankind. The Expo is an opportunity for us all to examine how we behave as human beings in an increasingly complex and competitive world.

It is in respect to this new world that one of the Expo's most important messages comes to light - to show the world the importance of balancing the opportunistic nature of business with the betterment of humanity. The Expo is a platform for people, government and business to come together and consider what a better city and better life will look like, and how we can all work to build a sustainable and positive future.

All companies exist and endure only because they create value for society. This pact with society is one that Danone believes in so strongly that we have worked to build it into the very DNA of our company. We have benefited from the incredible vision of our company leaders, like former Danone CEO Antoine Riboud, who saw the importance of this critical balance decades ago when he stated, "Growth should not be an end in itself, but the means to an end, always favoring and never diminishing quality of life." This type of visionary leadership has helped us to develop the programs and tools to sustain our business by building a stronger and sustainable society.

One of the keys to building a strong and sustainable society is taking care of the health of the people, and this goes to the very core of our company. Danone's mission is to provide healthy food to as many people as possible. Our strategy in doing this is to develop food products with clear health benefits and increase our worldwide reach by entering into new geographical areas.

This message has been abridged to suit the space limitations.


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