Dannon claims that the successful results of this research, since 2010, meant that it had reformulated the product without sacrificing nutrients, taste, texture or product convenience.
“Over a period of two years, the research and development team at Dannon deconstructed then reconstructed its Danimals Smoothies to make it easier for parents to provide their children with the nutritional benefits of low fat dairy ,” the company said.
Health and wellness turns kids into Danimals…
Sergio Fuster, senior VP of marketing at Dannon said : “We make snack options that kids want to eat and that parents feel good about when feeding their children.
“We hear concerns from parents about the amount of sugar in their kids’ diets, and we worked for a long time to find a way to improve the total nutritional value of Danimals Smoothies while still making them taste great, which is what made them our bestselling kids product in the first place.”
Research firm Mintel states in an August 2012 US report, Yogurt & Yogurt Drinks, that yogurt drinks were worth $283m in the US in 2012 (0.3% up on 2011, following several years of steady decline), mainly due to the fact that 21% of yogurt purchasers believe drinking varieties are more expensive.
Danimals Smoothies are one notable success story: Mintel said that sales hit $107m in the year to May 13, 2012 (up 17.7% year-on-year), while the fact that 60% of US yogurt purchasers (parents, clearly, in this case) preferred varieties that were a good source of ‘calcium and vitamin D’, which benefited the brand.
“The growth of kid-friendly yogurt drinks such as Danimals as well as other adult beverages with probiotics and other ingredients that promote health and wellness will fuel growth at some firms in the years to come,” Mintel said.
Dannon food scientists mask tartness
The Danimals reformulation involved a “multiyear, innovative process”, Dannon said, and Thierry Saint-Denis, director of R&D at Dannon explained that, every time one changed an ingredient, something else needed to be added to balance out the flavor.
“In our case, we had to balance the natural acidity with sugar. The acidic the yogurt or smoothie is, the more sugar you need to add in order to make it taste better,” he said.
Saint-Denis added: “In our case, we had to balance the natural acidity with sugar. The more acidic a yogurt or smoothie is, the more sugar you need to add in order to make it taste better.
“Through experimenting with different yogurt cultures, we were able to reduce the acidity and, in turn, reduce the need for sugar to mask tartness," he said.
Chobani Champions takes ‘unique direction’
According to Mintel, households with kids “over-index on yogurt use”, and manufacturers such as Dannon have worked hard to capitalize through kid-friendly packaging.
Rivals in the yogurt/yogurt drink space include Yoplait’s Go-Gurt, while Mintel said Chobani took the concept in a unique direction with Chobani Champions, low-fat, high protein Greek yogurt line designed for kids.
Mintel said Food, Drug and Mass Merchandisers (FDMx; Symphony IRI recorded) sales of Chobani Champions more than tripled in 2011-2012, “indicating that there is substantial demand for premium Greek yogurt that is made for kids”.
“Products such as this could become more popular in the future as parents across the nation continue to seek out low fat, low calorie SKUs that are tasty and are housed in packaging that is likely to be well-received by kids,” according to Mintel.
“Manufacturers who are considering introducing that type of new product should weigh the option of kid-friendly better-for-you yogurt carefully, particularly when targeting upper-income households," the research firm added.