QUINCY, MASS. — In the frozen dessert category, pints have surged in popularity in recent years, helped by the wild success of Halo Top and similar high-protein, reduced-calorie brands entering the market. Yasso, a maker of frozen Greek yogurt novelties, is set to launch its own pint offering in the coming months. The product line, featuring eight flavors, will be different from other brands in several key ways, said Drew Harrington, co-founder of Yasso.
For one, unlike Halo Top Creamery, which last year catapulted to the No. 1 best-selling pint of ice cream in grocery stores nationwide, Yasso pints do not contain the high-intensity sweetener erythritol.
|Drew Harrington, co-founder of Yasso|
"We really focused in on taste, but also to get that taste and be where we wanted to be on nutritionals, we didn’t want to use some of the high-intensity sweeteners that other brands were using, most notably, erythritol," Mr. Harrington said in an interview with Food Business News. "We avoided the use of high-intensity sweeteners altogether… some people wonder about the integrity of that ingredient (erythritol), so we wanted to avoid it altogether."
Since launching in 2011, Yasso has set out to offer products that are both indulgent and better-for-you. The brand offers a broad range of frozen Greek yogurt stick bars, as well as a recently launched first-of-its-kind frozen Greek yogurt sandwich, featuring dark chocolate wafers, in vanilla and mint varieties.
"Where we’ve found success in the novelty category with our bars was the ability to really hit the sweet spot… what we call the 'best of both worlds' in the sense that we’re delivering a lot of indulgence that people are looking for in the ice cream category, but also delivering superb nutritionals, whether it’s calories or protein or use of real Greek yogurt and natural ingredients," Mr. Harrington said. "That was a void… no one had really cornered that market or found that sweet spot within novelties. In the past year or two, as we had that growth we thought, 'Can we be a one-stop shop for all your dessert needs?'
"In the process, we saw newcomers enter the packaged arena like Halo Top, Enlightened, Arctic Zero… and we looked at those products and we credit them with having some nice growth and bringing awareness to the category, but we felt that what we had done in novelties in delivering taste and nutritionals we could do better than anyone was doing in packaged, where the newcomers and some of the new diet brands might have ok nutritionals, but we felt they were lacking on the most important thing in dessert, which is taste."
Varieties range from the traditional mint chip and chocolate chip cookie dough to original offerings such as Caramel Pretzelmania, featuring sea salt caramel flavored frozen Greek yogurt with pieces of chocolate-covered pretzels and a caramel swirl; Coffee Brownie Break, with coffee frozen Greek yogurt and chunks of brownies and crushed cookies; and Loco Coco Caramel, featuring toasted coconut flavored frozen Greek yogurt with a caramel swirl and chocolate-flavored chips. There is also a variety called Party Animal, featuring cake flavored yogurt with rainbow sprinkles and chunks of cake. Chocolate PB & Yay combines chocolate yogurt with a peanut butter swirl and peanut butter chips.
"We had so much fun creating flavors; Mint Champion-chip and Rolling in the Dough are a nod to our bestselling stick bar items," Mr. Harrington said. "Nothing has changed on those two, other than the fact they are now in a pint. The other six are completely new flavors."
Each pint contains four servings, which range from 100 to 150 calories with 1 to 5 grams of fat and 5 to 7 grams of protein. A pint of Halo Top, comparatively, contains approximately 80 calories, 2 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein per serving. On the more indulgent end of the spectrum, a serving of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey has 300 calories, 18 grams of fat and 4 grams of protein.
"When we set out to develop our pints over the past two years, we painstakingly took a lot of time, a lot of discipline in making sure that the packaging was vibrant, fantastic, has a nice brand voice and was fun and energetic, and that the product from a nutritional standpoint stayed true to what we had done in novelties, but most important, tasted good," Mr. Harrington said. "That’s how we landed with the eight pints we launched. Almost every single one has a double inclusion, like the high indulgent brands like Ben & Jerry’s, but still coming in around 500 calories a pint. So, a few more calories than some of the new brands like Halo Top, but we feel consumers are going to be willing to trade up because the taste is that much more superb."
Yasso pints will be available beginning in February and March with initial distribution in several national retailers, including Walmart and Target. Aside from a limited launch of frozen Greek yogurt by Ben & Jerry's several years ago, Yasso is the only national brand with a frozen Greek yogurt pint offering, Mr. Harrington said.
"For the most part, when you look at the category now and think of the competition and Yasso versus Nestle and Unilever house brands and Halo Top and diet brands like Enlightened and Arctic Zero, they are either high-fat, high-calorie ice creams or low-fat, low-calorie ice creams," he said. "We are the only one that is a frozen Greek yogurt on a national scale, with the exception of Ben & Jerry’s."