The 2013 yogurt innovation phenomenon

Shaun Weston6 Mar 2013 (Updated 4 Jun 2014)

Zenith International’s Laura Knight looks at global innovation in yogurt.

With its ‘good for you’ credentials and impressive versatility, the yogurt market continues to be a dynamic one. Available in a wide array of formats including pots, split pots, tubes, bottles (drinking) and tubs (frozen), yogurt has proven to be suitable for a range of consumption occasions, and one that's consumed across the demographic spectrum.

Despite already being a well developed market in many countries, manufacturers are continuing to innovate, and consumer demand for yogurt doesn't appear to be waning.

One continuing success story is that of Greek yogurt, which has seen strong gains in markets including the UK and US. Its ‘naturalness’ and high protein content have made it popular with consumers wanting to move away from artificial/processed products.

New entrants in the UK last year (2012) included Müllerlight Greek Style and Danone with Oykos Greek Style, followed by Danone’s new Greek yogurt brand, Danio.

In the US, Chobani has seen rapid success and will be launching new formats of its Greek yogurt in 2013:

  • Chobani Flip with crunchy mix-ins
  • Champions Tubes for kids on-the-go
  • and snack-sized Chobani Bite.

The new product announcement follows the company’s opening of the world’s largest yogurt plant in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Chobani also opened a retail store in New York City which allows it to test-market flavour combinations with fans, and garner immediate feedback about preferences.

Complementary to the Greek yogurt trend has been that of the introduction of ‘simple’ and ‘natural’ yogurts such as Dannon Pure yogurt in the US: a value brand targeted at cost-conscious shoppers and made with between seven and nine ‘simple, natural ingredients’.

Another example is Yoplait Simplait, which also has six ingredients. There is also a growing trend for ‘craft’ yogurts that highlight their milk sources and traditional processes.

Unusual flavours

Another noticeable trend has been that of bold flavours and unusual flavour combinations in yogurts. Flavours that appear to be currently in vogue include fig, rhubarb, pomegranate and cherry.

Producers are experimenting with unusual flavours in limited edition variants such as Yeo Valley’s Lemon & Poppy Seed, and flavours that reflect the seasons.

Functional yogurts have been impacted in the EU by health claims regulation. However, there's still room in the market for products where health benefits are clearly defined and are easy for the consumer to understand. A recent example of such a product is Yoplait Calin+ which contains added vitamin D (100% RDA) and calcium (50% RDA) for bone health, and targets women aged over 55.

Another example of yogurts targeting a specific section of the population is lactose-free yogurts. As discussed in Zenith International’s 2012 report, Opportunity for Lactose Free Dairy, it's estimated that around 70-75% of the world’s population is, or claims to be, lactose intolerant. This offers dairy manufacturers a large potential market to cater for by producing lactose-free dairy products.

In 2012, Kärntnermilch in Austria launched a new lactose-free range of dairy products, including yogurts, Laktofrei. A key launch in the US was from General Mills with the introduction of Yoplait Lactose Free.

During 2013, the yogurt market will no doubt continue to see interesting innovations in flavours, packaging formats and ingredients, with natural sweetener stevia likely to be found in a growing number of products.

Further crossovers with other dairy categories and foods is also likely to generate more product launches this year, with Greek yogurt already making its way into other dairy products with Greek yogurt flavoured cream cheese and butter. However, despite all of the developments, manufacturers must remember that taste will continue to be the key factor for consumers.