CHICAGO — Drinkable yogurt has cultured quite a following in the past five years, according to the latest research from Mintel. Sales of yogurt drinks have grown 62% between 2011 and 2016, reaching $893 million. But the growth doesn’t stop there, Mintel said. Drinkable yogurt sales are projected to grow 11% in 2016.
|Beth Bloom, senior analyst of U.S. food and drink for Mintel|
“Yogurt drinks are becoming increasingly popular among U.S. consumers, and as adoption of the yogurt drinks segment grows, so, too does innovation,” said Beth Bloom, senior analyst of U.S. food and drink for Mintel. “It’s one of the few food and drink spaces where launch activity sees brand new products outpacing simple variations on form.”
For example, General Mills, Inc. announced in July that it would launch Yoplait yogurt beverages in such flavors as pecan and strawberry. In March, Chobani L.L.C. debuted Drink Chobani, a line of yogurt drinks in apple cucumber spinach, mango, mixed berry and strawberry banana flavors.
Well-being is a driver for U.S. consumers when buying yogurt drinks or spoonable yogurt, Mintel said. Forty-three per cent buy yogurt for the digestive health benefits, leading several manufacturers to introduce yogurt drinks boasting such health benefits. In fact, over half of drinkable yogurt launches feature a digestive health claim, according to data from Innova Market Insights.
Digestive health is a key attribute of Früzinga probiotic drinkable yogurts from Dairy Innovations L.L.C. Each 7-oz single-serve bottle contains 90 calories, 7 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber.
“Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help regulate your digestive system and may support your immune system,” said Mark Norton, vice-president of brand strategy. “They encourage the growth of the friendly, natural, healthy bacteria that live in your gut so that they may help restore the balance of good and bad bacteria. To further fuel their growth, Früzinga is enhanced with prebiotic fiber.
“Whereas probiotics are living organisms, prebiotics are not. Prebiotics complement your gastrointestinal health by helping to bolster your intestinal micro flora.”
A recent innovation from Pillars Yogurt LLC also delivers many of the dietary components consumers seek. New Pillars drinkable Greek yogurt is sweetened with stevia, made with milk from grass-fed cows and contains live and active probiotic cultures and prebiotic fiber. A 12-oz single-serve bottle contains 100 calories, no fat, 18 grams of protein, 5 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fiber.
“Pillars is a functional dairy beverage that fills a market gap between traditional cup Greek yogurt, smoothie products and other drinkable yogurts,” said Eric Bonin, president and product creator. “Simply, Pillars makes Greek yogurt more convenient, nutritious and delicious.”
So when are consumers drinking these yogurt beverages? While 93% said they consume yogurt or yogurt drinks for breakfast, Mintel said, the category is gaining ground in the snacking arena. Eighty-four per cent of consumers said they choose yogurt as a morning or afternoon snack, Mintel said, up from 37% who chose it as a morning snack and 41% who snacked in the afternoon in 2014.
“A growing acceptance of yogurt as a snack creates huge opportunity for the market considering the importance of snacking in U.S. diets,” Ms. Bloom said. “As a result, we’re seeing product innovation expand to include formats that fit non-breakfast occasions, including savory and satiating varieties.”
Grupo LaLa’s recently launched Curb yogurt smoothies feature “fight hunger” claims on the bottle. The yogurt drinks contain 10 grams of protein and 8 grams of whole grains.
Satiety also may be a key driver in the rise of full-fat yogurt options. Sixteen per cent of U.S. consumers said they purchase whole-fat yogurt and yogurt drinks, Mintel said.
For example, Lifeway Foods, Inc. offers a 6-flavor line of whole milk kefir that is USDA certified organic. Varieties include plain, strawberries and cream, peaches and cream, coconut and cream, lemon meringue and wildberries and cream.“Full-fat varieties are seeing strong sales growth at natural channels, while non-fat options struggle, pointing to a growing acceptance of fat in food,” Ms. Bloom said. “As consumers appear increasingly interested in functional benefits from their food and drinks, communicating how yogurt and yogurt drinks can contribute to these health needs will be a means of standing apart from the crowd.”