Friday, May 1, 2015

The Changing Yogurt Landscape: Five Insights to Assist with Your Innovation Efforts

Greek yogurt sales are flattening according to data from the IRI DMI Custom Database, which was provided courtesy of Midwest Dairy Association.
 (See chart and graph below.)

The word on the street is that hummus, in its many flavors and snacking formats, will be the next big thing. Makes sense…it complements the plant-based diet recommendations from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. It’s also low in carbs and high in protein and healthful fats, the dietary platform many consumers are currently following.

The dairy industry had to know this time would come, as consumers tire easily.

This is not to say Greek yogurt is going away, but if yogurt marketers want to experience continued sales growth, they are going to have to innovate to keep consumers interested.

Don’t believe me? Then read what Michael Gonda, vice president of communications at Chobani, has to say. My colleague, Monica Watrous, at Food Business News conducted a very insightful interview with him regarding Chobani’s plans to reach new consumers through innovative Greek yogurt products. You can read the article HERE.

Source: IRI DMI Custom Database, Courtesy of Midwest Dairy Association

Source: IRI DMI Custom Database, Courtesy of Midwest Dairy Association

I’ve been keeping my pulse on the global refrigerated yogurt category and have identified five opportunities for innovation. Here they are.

1. Yogurt for Foodservice
In case you have not heard, USDA approved Greek yogurt to be available for U.S. students to purchase through their school lunch programs starting in fall 2015. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement that the inclusion of Greek yogurt in school lunches “will increase demand for Greek yogurt across the country, while at the same time providing another healthy food option in the lunchroom.” This is true…but, let’s be proactive and learn from the milk category. What do I mean? Make the yogurt cartons kid friendly! Don’t sit back and expect the yogurt to sell itself.

Kid-friendly flavors, eye-catching graphics, contests, fun facts, the list goes on…create a product and a package that appeals to this student demographic. This might require a different line for middle school and high school, maybe even different products and packages designed to appeal to males and females. How about playing up the muscle-building power of dairy proteins to appeal to high school athletes?  

There is so much opportunity here to grow the business. We cannot blow it.
If you want to read more about Greek yogurt’s approval on the school lunch program, link HERE.

Source: IRI DMI Custom Database, Courtesy of Midwest Dairy Association

Also in foodservice, have you noticed how more breakfast bars and buffets are starting to serve large bowls of plain Greek yogurt with toppings instead of single-serve containers? Make sure you are offering a foodservice-size yogurt.

2. The Pouch

I’ve written many times about the pouch package and how it is not just for kids’ yogurt. This package is an ideal format for high-protein cultured dairy snacks for on-the-go adults. There’s a great deal of opportunity for innovative products delivered via the pouch. Read “Appreciating Dairy Packaging; the Potential of the Pouch” HERE.

In Australia, Chobani offers its regular Greek yogurt and now its Oats products in the pouch. Both are targeted to all consumers, with the Oats product in flavors more suited to adult palates.
Chobani Greek Yogurt Oats bridges the breakfast gap between yogurt and oats. Each 140-gram pouch contains 10 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber from gluten-free steel-cut oats and added oat fiber. There are four varieties: Apple Cinnamon, Banana Maple, Coconut and Cranberry.
3. Extra Nutrition

Those added oats…that’s the third opportunity. Blending yogurt—Greek or traditional—with whole grains, nuts and seeds--everything from flax and oats to chia and quinoa--transforms yogurt into a hearty meal.
Epicurean Dairy in New Zealand now offers yogurt and chia and yogurt and granola under The Collective Great Dairy brand. The chia line includes: Berries & Chia; Coconut Lime & Chia; Date, Cacao & Chia; Mango & Chia and Manuka Honey & Chia. The granola line has a sub-brand of Tummy Love, as it’s loaded with prebiotics and probiotics. It comes in Apricot and Blueberry variants. 

4. With Texture
These additions feed into the texture trend. Millennials are the texture generation. They are into experiencing multi-sensory sensations, which means it’s not enough to taste good, the product must provide oral pleasure. Crunchy, chunky, chewy…texture adds an extra dimension to yogurt, a product traditionally considered smooth and creamy.

The Swiss retail chain Migros recently introduced private-label, limited-edition Passion Crunchy Coffee Yogurt. This unique yogurt not only is flavored with real liquid coffee extract, it contains 2.5% coffee chips.

In select European markets, Danone now offers a dual-compartment yogurt with candies in the smaller side and layered yogurt and candy sauce in the other. The M&M’s version has chocolate sauce while the Twix variant has caramel sauce.

5. Indulgence and Full Fat

In case you have not heard, milkfat is no longer the enemy. In fact, research indicates that dairy fats are actually good-for-the-body fats. Of course, as with anything, they should be consumed in moderation.

I recently wrote a column for Food Business News entitled “Scientifically based nutrition advice: Eat butter, meat and cheese.” It includes an interview with Nina Teicholz, author of the New York Times bestseller The Big Fat Surprise-Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. You can read the column HERE.

It should be no surprise that whole milk yogurt is outselling fat-free yogurt these days, as it simply tastes better. And taste is paramount, especially with millennials. To read more about how millennials like good and good-tasting food, link HERE.

To read about more cultured dairy product trends, link HERE.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Milk and Cultured Dairy Products Conference, which will be held May 19 to 20 in Minneapolis. For more info, link HERE. Hope to see you there!           
Source: IRI DMI Custom Database, Courtesy of Midwest Dairy Association

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