European slowdown hits Danone

French food group Danone said growth slowed sharply at its dairy division as shoppers in Italy and Spain switched to cheaper alternatives in recession conditions unlikely to ease into next year. Kicking off the third-quarter reporting season yesterday ahead of large food makers like Nestle and Unilever, the world’s largest yoghurt maker, whose brands include Actimel and Activia, said third-quarter sales reached €5.26bn (£3.25bn), with like-for-like sales growth at five per cent.