Friday, June 29, 2012

Will the Real Greek Stand Up?

Greek yogurt in the States continues to evolve from the original fermented and strained whole milk product that debuted in retailers’ refrigerated dairy cases just a few years ago. Many recent innovations that carry the verbiage “Greek yogurt” can be found throughout the grocery store, in particular the snack food aisle and the frozen dessert freezer. They’re even making a name for themselves in foodservice, not only as a cultured dairy product (used in fruit parfaits and as soft-serve) but also as a cooking ingredient and condiment.

And, at the 2012 IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo in Las Vegas, which ended yesterday and I was fortunate enough to attend (It was great to see so many of you!), numerous suppliers debuted ingredient systems to assist product designers with developing all types of “Greek yogurt” products. (Look for some of these ideas in upcoming issues of the Daily Dose of Dairy and this Blog.)

For an immediate overview of this trend, please read an article I recently wrote for Food Business News that can be found HERE.

In a nutshell, many, including me, are a bit concerned that some of these products are diluting the promises of traditional (strained) Greek yogurt, including power (from protein), indulgence (from fat) and satiety (from both). But don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all innovations that attract new consumers to the dairy products category and result in increased consumption of dairy. So, if calling a product “Greek” helps, so be it.

Two soon-to-be launched “Greek” innovations for the dairy case have been formulated to appeal to the calorie-conscious consumer. They come from the top-two national yogurt brands: Dannon and Yoplait.

Dannon Light & Fit Greek comes in four-packs of 5.3-ounce cups, a deviation from the 4-ounce cup standard in most multi-packs. This line of nonfat yogurt is able to keep calories low (at 80 per serving) through the use of a sweetener blend comprised of fructose, sucralose and acesulfame potassium. Product labels tout the fact that a serving contains 45% fewer calories and two-times the protein of regular low-fat yogurt. (Each 5.3-ounce cup contains 12 grams of protein.) Varieties are: Blueberry, Cherry, Strawberry and Vanilla.

Yoplait Greek 100 will be available in stores across the U.S. by August. The company says the product delivers all of the benefits of Greek yogurt--thick and creamy texture and two times the protein of regular yogurt--in 100 calories. The product’s package will carry an endorsement from Weight Watchers with a PointsPlus value of two per serving. Yoplait Greek 100 adds to General Mills’ expanding line of Greek yogurt products, including Yoplait Greek Parfaits with Nature Valley Granola and Yoplait Greek yogurt multi-packs in Blueberry, Cherry Pomegranate and Coconut flavors, introduced earlier this calendar year. New Yoplait Greek 100 comes in six flavors: Black Cherry, Kiwi Lime, Mixed Berry, Peach, Strawberry and Vanilla.

What intrigues me about the U.S. “Greek yogurt” phenomenon is that if you go to Greece, what you will find is that they don’t call their strained yogurt “Greek.” It’s just yogurt. But when you are there, occasionally you might stumble upon something referred to as “American yogurt,” and it’s not very popular, as it contains a bunch of ingredients that the Greeks (and actually most of the world) view as foreign.

For American subscribers to the Daily Dose of Dairy: Have a lovely Independence Day holiday!
The Daily Dose of Dairy will be on vacation for a week. Publication will resume Monday, July 9.

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