Skyr, a fermented dairy product, similar to yogurt and originally from Iceland, has seen increased popularity due to its mild taste, low fat levels and high protein content.
China’s yogurt industry is enjoying a boom period. According to Euromonitor International it is growing at an average rate of 15% per year and, by 2022, China is forecast to overtake the US as the world’s largest yogurt market.
A recent survey of 2,500 respondents in six Chinese cities, commissioned by Arla and conducted by TNS China, found 84% of adults and 92% of children eat yogurt at least once a week.
To capitalize on the trend, Arla Foods Ingredients has created a skyr product geared towards Chinese tastes that can be used in existing, standard yogurt-making lines, eliminating the need for investment in new equipment.
Made with Nutrilac dairy proteins, it delivers skyr in both stirred and drinkable formats, with 6% protein content and 1.5% fat.
Dairies can use 100% of their milk in the production process, compared to traditional skyr-making, where only 33% of the milk is used for the finished product. The remainder is acid whey and permeate, which are usually discarded as waste or sold off cheaply.
Aparecido Silveira, global marketing manager for dairy at Arla Foods Ingredients, said there has never been a better time to launch innovative products onto the Chinese market in this category.
“Skyr has been a huge success in Scandinavia and elsewhere in the world and we believe it will also receive a warm welcome in China,” Silveira said.
“To maximize the potential for this solution, it has been formulated to be suited to the preferences of Chinese people, with just the right texture and optimum levels of protein and fat.”
Arla’s research also found that among some Chinese consumers there is a perception yogurt products are not filling enough.
Silveira said skyr has the potential to address this.
He told DairyReporter the challenges and opportunities boil down to more or less the same thing: to strengthen yogurt’s image as a healthy, natural and filling snack.
“For manufacturers, the road to higher dairy sales starts with the development of healthier options with novel tastes and textures,” he said.
The new skyr will be introduced at the Food Ingredients China (FiC) exhibition (Shanghai, March 22-24, 2018), and Silveira said the new product is adaptable to be able to reflect the regional variation within China.
“We know tastes can be very different from region to region, that’s why yogurt manufacturers can count on our application specialists and our versatile portfolio of Nutrilac proteins to help develop tailor-made textures.”
Silveira said Arla Food Ingredients is looking beyond China for the product.
“The skyr concept is a novelty and we’re sure we can help Asian manufacturers develop winning products that consumers are looking for. Besides the skyr, we’ll be also promoting two other concepts at the FiC tradeshow.”
The first is a high-protein yogurt drink.
“Drinking yogurt is a big favorite in China, but consumers are still looking for products that serve as filling between-meal snacks or meal replacers. Our concept fills the hunger gap with Nutrilac proteins.
“The result is a fresh drinking yogurt with 6% protein, 3% fat and a light texture, suitable for marketing towards kids, seniors or other target consumers.”
The second is a natural long-life snack.
“Most long-life dairy products in China contain artificial additives to keep them smooth and stable. But now consumers are demanding more clean-label products,” Silveira said.
“Our yogurt concept demonstrates the natural stabilizing capacity of Nutrilac proteins – delivering a smooth, non-sandy texture with no separation throughout a six-month shelf life.”