State of the industry: How Greek yogurt keeps customers coming back

By Beth Newhart contact

- Last updated on GMT

Packaging and product innovations are allowing for a longer shelf life and healthy products to be sold in convenience channels. Pic: ©GettyImages/DmitriMaruta
Packaging and product innovations are allowing for a longer shelf life and healthy products to be sold in convenience channels. Pic: ©GettyImages/DmitriMaruta

Related tags: Greek yogurt, Yogurt, Convenience stores, Protein

Greek yogurt still accounts for half the total yogurt category. After explosive growth in the US throughout the last decade, Greek yogurt brands are innovating however they can to keep consumers interested in the high-protein snack, taking cues from wider convenience channel trends.

Greek yogurt is now a staple at grocery stores in Europe and North America after being virtually nonexistent as recently as 15 years ago. There are more options than ever before, and brands are constantly developing new ways to enjoy it.

Plain, non-fat Greek is advertised as the perfect condiment substitute for cooking or a base in smoothies and bowls. Single-cup options replace sugary, fat-laden yogurts of the past, with crunchy mix-ins, artisanal flavors and functional ingredients. While all considered a convenient, on-the-go treat, consumer behavior is changing the way Greek yogurt is marketed as a snack.

Attracting a healthy audience

Following the celebration of national Greek yogurt day this month, Danone North America spoke to DairyReporter about its several brands that sell Greek yogurt and the future of the industry.

The biggest draw to Greek yogurt has been its nutritional benefits. Compared to traditional low-fat yogurt, it has twice the protein and less lactose. It also has a creamy texture that can make it taste more indulgent, which consumers respond to when choosing their snacks.

Amanda Blechman, a registered dietitian at Danone North America, said, “We’re seeing a lot of interest in on-the-go convenient items because consumers are leading busier and more active lifestyles. It’s important for them to have foods and products that really complement their lives.”

This trend is represented across food and beverage categories - packaging and product innovations are allowing for a longer shelf life and healthy products to be sold in convenience channels like vending machines and small markets.

Bottled yogurts like the Oikos Greek Nonfat Yogurt Drinks, Light & Fit Protein Smoothies and Chobani Greek Style Yogurt Drinks are regularly stocked in the convenience channel, providing better-for-you alternatives  and an alternative way to enjoying Greek yogurt beyond single-serve cups.

Tapping into a $25bn industry

The National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) works with members “to strengthen and advance the convenience services industry through strategic support of advocacy, education and research initiatives.”​ At its recent NAMA Coffee Tea & Water show, the organization spoke about its role with convenience customers.

“Our industry is uniquely positioned to help ensure greater access to better-for-you products. The convenience services industry is a $25bn business serving millions of customers each day, with more than 5 million vending machines and 10,000 micro-markets and growing,”​ NAMA said.

“Our place in America’s diet continues to expand. North American snack food sales annually top $124bn and counting. Snacking is the new dining, and over the next few years, the number of snack foods eaten at or replacing meals is predicted to rise.”

It’s a natural step for consumers to choose high-protein drinkables like Greek yogurt beverages when looking for a potential healthy meal replacement. Blechman explained that more yogurts are being adapted for this functional opportunity by adding in extra amounts of nutrients like calcium, fiber and vitamin D.

“We’re excited about the future of Greek yogurt. We see a lot of opportunity for growth because we know a lot of Americans eat less yogurt than their European and Canadian counterparts. We’re hopeful that we can bring ideas for new eating occasions and settings that people can enjoy yogurt in beyond the traditional breakfast bowl,”​ she said.

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