Yogurt makers expand when and who eats yogurt with different product platforms

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Yogurt Ice cream Chocolate

Yogurt manufacturers are rolling out a wide variety of new products to drive consumer interest in and consumption of the dairy product in an attempt to boost sales, which have slowed in recent years after experiencing astronomical growth for several years in a row. 

Sales of yogurt from 2013 to 2014 grew a healthy 3.4%, but this is nothing compared to the 7.8% to 10% year over year growth the category experienced from 2010 through 2013, which helped yogurt sales in the U.S. reach $8.9 billion in 2014, according to Packaged Facts​. 

“When we started in the yogurt business in 1942, people didn’t even know what yogurt was. We have come a long way in 70 years … [with] the average American now eating about one yogurt per week. So, we have gone from zero to roughly 52 per year,”​ which is substantial growth, said Michael Neuwrith, senior director of public relations at Dannon. But, he added at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit in Washington, D.C., in late February, “we also know that we have a long way to grow.”

To regain momentum and help the category continue to grow Dannon, Chobani and other yogurt makers are reformulating, repackaging and reinventing yogurt to bring in new consumers and expand when Americans eat yogurt.

For example, Dannon’s Oikos Triple Zero featuring the National Football League shield targets men, who currently are not the primary consumers of yogurt. The product is fat free Greek yogurt with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners and is positioned as an excellent source of protein, Neuwrith said. He added Dannon also repackaged a line of its children’s yogurts, Danimals Squeezables, into easy-to-eat pouches in an effort to attract younger shoppers.

Chobani also reformulated its children’s products to be available in pouches and tubes. In addition, the tubes have 25% less sugar per serving than the leading yogurt tubes, said Peter McGuinness, the chief marketing officer at Chobani. He added at Natural Products Expo West that Chobani’s new line of tots yogurt in pouches is made with whole milk, less protein for easier digestion, low sugar and plant-based DHA.

As illustrated by Chobani’s new children’s and tots’ lines, the Greek yogurt manufacturers is trying to grow yogurt consumption by bringing new people into the category, McGuinness said, adding: “Our mission is better food for more people.”

Appealing to more people with more platforms

Chobani also is rolling out new products to appeal to Americans at different times of day.

Among the new platforms is Chobani Oats, a hearty blend of Greek yogurt, steal cut oats and real fruit in six flavors, McGuiness said. He explained that this new product, which “comes in a cup and is packed with protein and packed with grains and packed with fiber,” ​is especially exciting from a business standpoint because “it is not designed to compete with our existing core products. It is actually going to source volume from oatmeal and cereals.”

He added that instant oatmeal is category worth more than $1 billion category, “and we have a new take on instant oatmeal.”

Chobani also launched a Flip Greek Yogurt, which packages greek yogurt with a “dry side car”​ that includes nuts, seeds and dark chocolate to be stirred into the yogurt at consumption, McGuinness said. “That is designed to compete with candy bars.”

The company’s Indulgent line also offers a better-for-you alternative dessert, he said. Made with full-fat Greek Yogurt in five flavors, the line competes with full fat ice creams, he added.

Dannon also is positioning yogurt as an alternative to less healthy desserts with the expansion of its Oikos Greek Frozen Yogurt to include salted caramel, mint chocolate chip and cookies and cream. These are in addition to the previously launched vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, café latte and black cherry.

“Dannon Oikos Greek Frozen Yogurt has half the fat of regular ice cream plus 6-7 grams of protein in every half cup serving, offering consumers a ‘smarter choice’ frozen dessert option,”​ according to the company.

From a business perspective, the frozen yogurt has been a successful way to expand when consumers eat yogurt, said Neuwrith. He noted that the first half of the day is when more than 70% of yogurt is consumed, but that the frozen yogurt is clearly a post-4 p.m. consumption product.

Targeting need states

Dannon also is trying to expand yogurt sales by targeting consumer need states, Neuwirth said. For example, Dannon offers Activia for digestive health, Light & Fit nonfat yogurt for weight management and DanActive for immune support.

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