ROSEMONT, ILL. – While innovation has been cited as a key reason for the increase in U.S. yogurt consumption, new research from The NPD Group indicates the versatility of yogurt products across multiple day-parts and an increase in the number of consumers populating specific demographics is also fueling some of the growth.

“Although there are currently some marketplace changes in the category, yogurt has shown remarkable growth over the last decade and innovation, like new packaging and Greek-style yogurts, continues to breathe new life into the category,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “Innovation in the yogurt category is just one component. Taking a look into U.S. homes to see the behavioral drivers behind yogurt’s growth helps to round out the story for food marketers interested in either riding this wave or trying to replicate this story in other categories.”

Looking at yogurt consumption in the home, where three-fourths of all yogurt consumption takes place, yogurt has grown at all eating occasions -- breakfast, lunch, dinner and between meals, according to an NPD source of growth analysis. Consumers use yogurt as a meal, a meal replacement, a snack and a dessert.

Over the last five years, the in-home breakfast occasion has been the primary driver behind incremental eating occasions, with 39% of incremental yogurt eating occasions taking place in the morning. Breakfast is followed by 20% from between meal snack occasions, and 19% from lunch.

In addition to eating occasions, The NPD Group’s analysis looked at the age of the consumer and found over half of yogurt’s growth at breakfast may be attributed to consumers in the 18-to-34 and 45-to-64 age groups. Taking a closer look at the 18-to-34 age group, the study identified several dynamics that work together to result in incremental eating occasions.

Over the past five years, 18- to 34-year-olds have been eating breakfast in the home more often. Additionally, the number of 18- to 34- year-olds in the U.S. population is up by approximately 6% since 2007. Finally, yogurt’s share of breakfast occasions among the young adults has increased.

The NPD Group concluded the combination of more people in the 18-to-34 age segment, more breakfast meals being consumed by the age group, and yogurt’s higher share of the occasions has resulted in approximately 200 million incremental yogurt occasions among 18-34 year-olds since 2007.