Interview: Yili’s AMBPOMIAL brand

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

AMBPOMIAL is based upon the Greek word Ambrosial.  Pic: Yili
AMBPOMIAL is based upon the Greek word Ambrosial. Pic: Yili

Related tags Yili Dairy Yoghurt Yogurt China

Dairy Reporter recently had the opportunity to dig a little deeper into one of Yili’s brands, AMBPOMIAL, with Dr Zhanyou Yun, assistant president of Yili. The yogurt brand launched in 2013.

Could you tell me about the brand, its positioning and the main AMBPOMIAL products?

The brand name is based upon the Greek word Ambrosial. AMBPOMIAL contains signature yogurt cultures developed by the Agricultural University of Athens in Greece and has a creamier and thicker texture. It is 35% higher in protein than ordinary yogurt. We achieved annual sales of RMB 20bn (approximately $3.15bn) in 2019 and successfully entered the Southeast Asian market. In addition, we launched a new sub-brand AMX in 2020, targeting Gen-Z consumers with zero-sugar yogurt. In 2020, we launched the first ambient spoon-eating set yogurt.

AMBPOMIAL continues to upgrade its brand and products. It was the first in the global market to launch the following three kinds of innovative yogurt products: ambient stirred yoghurt with granules, ambient drinking yogurt and ambient spoon-eating set yogurt. As of March 2022, we have a wide range of products that cover a total of 19 flavors in four categories, offering rich, tasty products to consumers with diverse demands. 

How often do you launch new AMBPOMIAL products?

On average, two to four new mass production products and three to five tailored limited edition products are launched for the AMBPOMIAL brand every year. We spare no efforts on researching the taste preferences of our customers and expanding the technical boundaries for making yogurt so that we always surprise our customers with new flavors and innovative products. Backed by our strong market research team, R&D team and our integrated operations, our brand is able to launch the best new products within a short period of time.

More specifically, we achieve this through efforts in two key aspects. On the one hand, as a result of our insights around consumer demands, we are able to think outside the box and innovate across routine product categories. We continue researching the taste preferences and demands of our customers in terms of drinks, dairy products and snacks, aiming to integrate them with yogurt products, and coming up with ideas for new flavors of yogurt products.

On the other hand, as we continue to achieve breakthroughs in yogurt manufacturing technologies, we are surprising our customers with innovative yogurt products that can actually create new demand in the market. Good examples are the world’s first ambient stirred yoghurt with granules, first ambient drinking yogurt and first ambient spoon-eating set yogurt.

What new products are there in the AMBPOMIAL range?

In 2021, we launched the world’s first aseptic packaged layered set-yogurt cup that perfectly matches fruits with yogurt: a layer of jam on top of a layer of yogurt curd.

Baoshikeke​ is a layered yogurt with pomegranate flavor granules. The pomegranate flavor juice coated within the crispy balls reminds consumers of the texture of a fresh juicy pomegranate.

yili AMB3x

Haguagua​ is a layered yogurt with Hami melon cubes. The net-like pattern design and the refreshing green coloring bring customers the sense of a summer breeze.

Jinjinbo​ is a layered yogurt with pineapple cubes, giving customers the coolness and sweetness of pineapple and the feeling of a sunny day.

yili AMB4

Customized package for the Year of the Tiger was launched to celebrate the Spring Festival of the year of the tiger. The bottle features the Chinese characters for “tiger” and “China” as well as a vivid pattern of tiger stripes.

Boom Cheese Ball Yogurt ​is an aseptic packaged set yogurt in cup with two layers: yogurt on top and a layer of boom cheese balls at the bottom.

AMX Dandong Strawberries Yogurt: ​Strawberries are the most popular winter fruit in China, and Dandong is home to China’s best strawberries. AMX Dandong Strawberries Yogurt is a tastier and heathier zero-sugar yogurt with Dandong strawberries.

How does AMBPOMIAL research customer tastes for its new products, and what methods do you use to meet those demands? 

We constantly capture the latest trends in consumer demand through methods like conducting qualitative research on customer segments and identifying keywords around popular taste preferences using big data analysis.

We continue to break the boundaries of product categories and strive to provide better and tastier products through technical improvements, launching new products including yogurt with granules, curd yogurt, layered curd yogurt, and PET drinking yogurt.

In 2022, we launched a layered yogurt featuring New Zealand boom cheese balls on the bottom, offering the rich tastes of yogurt and cheese together to consumers.

How do you develop new flavors for the brand?

AMBPOMIAL aspires to become a classy young brand with an irresistible taste. Through its continual endeavors and innovations and a strong commitment to creativity, the brand is achieving technical breakthroughs that deliver even better tastes and pleasant experiences to customers.

We develop new flavors based on customer demands and regularly conduct research into market trends to support our product R&D. In order to capture market opportunities in a timely fashion, we have established a team to quickly turn innovative ideas into products. Our rich experience in market research, R&D, manufacturing and product promotions have enabled us to quickly update our new flavor line-ups.

What do you think is the biggest trend in the yogurt market in the Asia-Pacific region, and what are the differences between countries and even between different regions within a single country? Is the Asia-Pacific market affected by flavors which are trending globally? 

As the largest yogurt consumer across the globe, Asia is a world leader in terms of consumption growth, with its sales volume accounting for 43% of the world’s total. As consumers have become increasingly aware of the importance of a healthy diet and healthy digestion during the pandemic, more customers have added yogurt to their daily meals since it has abundant protein and probiotics that are beneficial to staying healthy. Yogurt as desserts and snacks have emerged as an increasingly popular healthy food for more people who want a quick snack. Moreover, demand for functional products is also one of the important market trends. Catering to the needs of different customer segments, we have launched products with various functions, including fat-burning, reduced-sugar, vegetarian, high-protein and probiotics yogurt products.

We are successively innovating product flavors, ingredients and packaging in China. For instance, we have recently been integrating the flavors of traditional festival snacks into our yogurts, such as by joining hands with time-honored catering brands in China, like Daoxiangcun and Tao Tao Ju, to launch limited-edition yogurt products in celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

In addition, we have developed new niche products aligned with recent trends, such as yogurts featuring unique flavors like milk tea, coriander and wasabi.

In response to industry trends around focusing more on fulfilling functional demands, including high-quality nourishment, the maintaining of a healthy intestinal tract, and boosting the immune system, Yili has launched high-protein yogurt products. Yili’s probiotics research team has also developed yogurt cultures based upon consumer demand and launched the new probiotic yogurt product Changqing.

Although Southeast Asia currently has a relatively low level of average per capita consumption of dairy products, the dairy industry has been one of the few segments in the food and beverage sector that has maintained steady growth during the pandemic in the region. As consumption levels and health awareness in Southeast Asia continue to grow, we expect to see huge market potential for yogurt products.

Of course, the Asia-Pacific market is not all about regional consumer habits. It is also influenced by global trends around greater demand for reduced sugar, plant-based diets, natural, healthy ingredients, and environmentally friendly products.

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