ARNHEM, THE NETHERLANDS — More than half of all U.S. consumers now buy yogurt as part of their typical grocery basket, according to a new report from Innova Market Insights. The report, which examines evolving trends in the yogurt landscape, said convenience and health are the two biggest factors shaping consumer habits.
Convenience is becoming increasingly important, with 17% of consumers saying it’s a significant choice factor in 2018, twice as many as the year before. This can be explained by a shift in eating occasions. While breakfast remains the top occasion for yogurt consumption, it has lost ground in recent years as a growing number of consumers turn to yogurt as a snack. Dinner is also a growing niche, according to the report.
“These shifts highlight the importance of ongoing innovation in this marketplace,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “Convenient formats are now important for many consumers, while the rise of dinner usage suggests interest in more indulgent, dessert-style yogurts.”
One way companies are capturing demand for convenience is with smoothies that combine yogurt with fruit and vegetables. The Kraft Heinz Co. launched Fruitlove spoonable smoothies in June. Geared toward snack-seeking consumers, the smoothies feature a variety of textures and unique flavors. Nicole Kulwicki, head of brand building at Fruitlove, said the product was created to make snacking more exciting.
“Snacking is both functional and emotional, and Americans want more from the foods they snack on — more flavor, nutrition and a better overall taste experience,” she said.
Last month, Stonyfield Organic, a subsidiary of the Lactalis Group, rolled out its new Fruit & Veggie Smoothie Pouches. The portable packaging includes a resealable lid and was designed to make on-the-go healthy snacking easier for families, according to the company.
Health claims remain central to yogurt’s appeal. In 2018, 64% of all new yogurts made digestive or gut health claims, while 58% were low in fat.
In line with the larger shift toward sugar reduction, low and no added sugar claims are increasing their share of yogurt launches. Last year, 21% of yogurt launches made a low or no added sugar claim, compared to just 3% in 2014.
Consumer interest in plant-based foods also is changing the yogurt landscape. The plant-based yogurt category grew 39% last year, reaching $230 million, according to data from The Good Food Institute and the Plant Based Foods Association. In the past few months alone, yogurt brands have introduced a slew of dairy-free yogurts.
Danone North America recently launched two oat milk yogurt alternatives through its So Delicious Dairy Free and Silk brands, both made with gluten-free oats. Joshua Cook, brand manager of plant-based yogurt for So Delicious Dairy Free, said oat milk alternatives are a good fit for breakfast and on-the-go snacking. They also may be used as ingredients to make homemade recipes dairy-free.
“Oat milk’s creamy texture is the perfect base for a yogurt alternative,” he said.
Other brands like Chobani and Stonyfield Organic have launched coconut cream-based yogurts with reduced sugar. Though not as high in protein as other ingredients like soy or oats, coconut cream provides a rich flavor.
Already a popular milk alternative, almonds now are being used in dairy free yogurts. Following other recent almond milk innovations, Blue Diamond recently entered the non-dairy yogurt category with Almond Breeze Almondmilk Yogurt Alternative. Though high in sugar, three grams of fiber and six grams of protein help satisfy consumers’ nutrition needs.