13.7 Conclusion

This case study provides insight into the challenges and complexities of producing a sustainable product in a sustainable way and highlights the benefits from taking a strategic approach to sustainability. The story of Stonyfield includes tensions between sustainability vision and business realities. Through innovation and a strategic approach, Stonyfield effectively narrowed the gap between vision and reality by making thoughtful decisions while constantly adhering to its organizational mission.

Stonyfield has always been strongly committed to its mission and has always aspired to improve on its sustainability practices. If the company could not, for whatever reasons, get things “right” with regards to its sustainability objectives the first time, it continuously strived to improve and get it right or better over time, constantly working for people, planet, and profits.


  1. Write a memorandum to the new CEO of Stonyfield about the importance of focusing on the sustainability mission of the company. The memo should include detailed discussion with specifics of how Stonyfield has benefited from a focus on sustainability at the strategic company level and how it can continue to benefit from a focus on sustainability.
  2. In a separate memorandum to the CEO of Stonyfield’s parent Danone, discuss the risks and opportunities of having Gary Hirshberg step down as CE-YO of Stonyfield. The memo should include discussion of how much of the company’s success has been based on the leadership and commitment of Mr. Hirshberg to sustainability and how an effective leadership transition can be achieved with Mr. Freese.
  3. Discuss the likelihood of Stonyfield having a strong influence on Danone’s sustainability practices over the long term. Describe the challenges for Danone in adopting Stonyfield’s mission-driven approach to sustainability. Describe the main opportunities for Danone in adopting Stonyfield’s sustainability practices throughout the international company.