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Savory yogurt is taking off, but how will it fit into Americans’ daily diets?

Mary Ellen Shoup

By Mary Ellen Shoup+

01-Dec-2016
Last updated on 06-Dec-2016 at 16:35 GMT2016-12-06T16:35:16Z

Americans are just catching on and getting comfortable eating yogurt outside of breakfast and snacking occasions, Sohha Savory Yogurt's founder said.
Americans are just catching on and getting comfortable eating yogurt outside of breakfast and snacking occasions, Sohha Savory Yogurt's founder said.

Savory yogurt has taken off in the US, helped by the huge wave of popularity of the now $8bn Greek yogurt industry, and many yogurt manufacturers are clamoring to make their stamp on the trend.

Chobani did it with its Flip and Meze dip line and Fage followed suit with the launch of its Crossovers products, blending olive and thyme with sliced almonds. Other players like Prairie Farms are also catching on with savory yogurt dips launched last month.

Has it been a misfire so far?

Even though these products seem to fit squarely into the growing savory yogurt trend, which is expected to expand at a significant rate through 2024, some savory yogurt products on the market are a “misfire” of the real thing, according to co-founder and owner of Sohha Savory Yogurt, John Fout.

“I think it’s confusing the issue because it’s not really savory and the sugar content is still pretty high,” Fout told DairyReporter. “There was sort of a misfire in the market.”

Sick of sweet, yogurt makers go savory

The sweet flavor arena has been just about covered when it comes to yogurt, which is part of the reason why savory is emerging. The savory category opens up an array of new flavor possibilities for yogurt manufacturers, allowing more room for innovation while maintaining a clean ingredient label.

“I think one of the reasons why savory yogurt has been doing well is that the consumer always used to take a look at fat content and always get a zero fat or zero calorie yogurt, but the problem is that those yogurts have a lot of sugar in them,” Fout said.

“The obesity epidemic took off when we started promoting low-fat foods. We thought people would start looking for low sugar yogurts, and they did.”

Sohha was able to capitalize on the savory yogurt trend well before major manufacturers like Chobani and Fage did back early 2014 when the company was founded.

The inspiration behind Sohha Savory Yogurt products stem from co-founder Angela Fout’s childhood growing up in Lebanon where yogurt was incorporated into pretty much every meal, he said.

“With almost every meal, there was always a bowl of yogurt with olive oil on it on the kitchen table,” Mr. Fout said.

“And that’s something that hasn’t really been embraced in the US, but is something we want to bring to people.”

Sohha’s products incorporate traditional Middle Eastern spice like za’atar, sumac, and sea salt into its yogurt products along with olive oil to create savory and creamy consistency, which the company believes is a more authentic representation of what savory yogurt should be.

More than just a breakfast food or snack

Much of savory yogurt’s growth potential lies in its usage versatility, something that US consumers are just starting catch on to, Mr. Fout said. As far as when yogurt should be consumed, Americans are particularly stuck in the mindset of eating yogurt as a fruit-flavored breakfast food or snack, but Sohha wants to change that perception.

“The beauty of this [savory yogurt], is that it has several different uses,” John said. “It’s not just a snack.”

Sohha yogurt, and savory yogurt in general, can be used in dips, marinades, wraps, sandwiches, or on its own.

The craft yogurt maker rolled their product concepts out slowly with its flagship Brooklyn location featuring a yogurt bar where consumers can learn and experiment with different flavors and uses.

However, the hands-on experience Sohha provides at their retail locations, doesn’t necessarily translate well into grocery stores, Mr. Fout pointed out.

“I think one of things stores struggle with is: ‘Where does it go in the supermarket aisle?’” he said.

“In the next year we’re going to be doing more of a push and trying to make it a lot more clear for people.”

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