As consumers demand more greek yogurt on their dinner and breakfast tables, manufacturers will have to innovate around latest trends in the segment to make their products stand out from the crowd.

Food innovations today are driven by two things: health and sustainability. From the not so healthy carbonated soft beverages to healthier alternatives such as yogurts and morning cereals, the mission is the same: to create healthier alternatives from sustainable ingredients.

The trend is not any different even in niche products like Greek yogurt. Also known as yogurt cheese or sack yogurt, Greek yogurt is differentiated from the normal yogurts – that most of us enjoy – through its mode of preparation, which involves straining of curd and separating it from the excess watery whey.

The straining process makes the yogurt thicker and creamier as compared to regular curd. It also punches in more protein than standard yogurt, giving it a healthier profile compared to what regular yogurt drinkers enjoy. Greek yogurt producers don’t make it a bland product.

It usually comes in a variety of flavors and toppings such as blueberry, vanilla, honey, chocolate, etc. Apart from enjoying it from the cup, consumer also find it handy in the kitchen. It’s especially handy when making various sauces or when marinating cheese and meat. 

As a result of its popularity both as a drink and as an ingredient in many other foods, the global Greek yogurt market has been expanding and was valued at US$8.57 Billion in 2020 by Allied Market Research. The market research firm projects the global market to reach US$11.2 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 10.9% from 2020 to 2027.

In this issue we explore some of the latest trends driving this double-digit growth. 

A craze for high protein Greek yogurt

Research and Markets notes that one of the key factors driving the global Greek yogurt market is the increase in health consciousness among consumers and change in dietary preference towards healthy and nutrient-rich food products.

Greek yogurt, being naturally high in protein, has been in demand especially among athletes and older adults who demand more protein to maintain their body muscles. But seemingly the high protein-ranging 16g per 6-ounce (170gram) serving is not enough for protein-seeking consumers.

This has made bands such as Super Spoon from Greece and Fage Greek from the US to develop and market high protein Greek yogurts. Fage-Greek for instance packs about 20g per 7-ounze cup (207ml) while Super Spoon gives consumers 8.8 grams of protein per 100g serving.

Stathoula Chatzi of Kri Kri explains the product launch: “Greek yogurt is a really big trend around the world due to the high protein content that it contains. We have combined very authentic Greek yogurt with superfruits and superfoods in order to have yogurt that can help you meet the demands of a demanding life. It is good for the immune system and for muscles when you are getting exercise. It can also function as snack at work or after having exercise.”

Removing dairy from Greek yogurt

Dairy production has a considerable effect on the environment due to emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide.

According to WWF, the greatest sources of these emissions in milk production include feed production, enteric fermentation and manure management. In the United States alone, dairy cattle rearing is responsible for 83.5 Mt of CO2e, or 1.3% of the US total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), according to a report by Science Direct. The situation is dire in New Zealand, a major dairy production country, where dairy is said to be responsible for 17% of the country’s GHGs. The impact of dairy on the environment has had many consumers switching to plant-based alternatives and the trend has even extended to Greek yogurts.

The global greek yogurt market has been expanding and is projected to reach us$11.2 Billion in 2027, growing at a cagr of 10.9% during the forecast period

Previously unknown to the consumer world, plant-based Greek yogurt is becoming mainstream with several product launches coming to market with commendable success. Some of the major product launches in the plant-based Greek yogurt scene include Kate Hill High Protein Greek yogurt, Alpro’s Greek-style vegan yogurt, and Danone’s Silk Greek style yogurt. Lia Stierwalt, senior director of marketing for Silk plant-based yogurt alternatives, thinks the plant-based Greek yogurt will be a game-changer.

“We believe that it will explode the plant-based yogurt segment, similar to what Greek did for dairy yogurt back in 2008,” Stierwalt said. As innovations help manufacturer conquer the top barriers in developing plant-based yogurt, which is taste and texture, more players are expected to come on board to cater for consumers switching to plant-based Greek yogurts either for sustainability or desire to maintain a vegan lifestyle

Chobani Zero Sugar, available from August 2021, has already created a niche for itself as an alternative to other low-fat and low-calorie yogurts. Innova Market Insights’ analysis reveals that 91 percent of consumers are “at least a little” influenced by sugar reduction claims. More products like Chobani’s Zero Sugar Greek yogurt can therefore be expected in the market as producers clamor to gain the attention of a consumer that is becoming increasingly picky about the products he or she picks from the shelves.  

A trendy product with positive outlook

When we talk about Greek yogurt, a premium dairy product with superior health benefits comes into mind. As consumers increasingly become health conscious, more are likely to switch to Greek instead of the standard sugar spiked highly flavoured variants.

With Greek yogurt, they are promised of improved digestibility and improved immune systems, as bacteria present in the product help to suppress certain pathogens through its antibacterial property. Greek yogurt is also considered to have anti-carcinogenic effect and may protect against certain cancers, making it an attractive drink for people from all walks of life.

For dairy players, this segment certainly provides an attractive avenue to grow revenues. A double-digit growth certainly has the potential to positively impact the bottom line of even the largest dairy. But to stake a claim for market share, dairy companies will require to innovate and introduce products that are attractive enough to convince consumers to pick them from the multitude.

Looking for ways to add more protein, working to eliminate dairy, or simply going zero sugar would be a good place to start.

This feature appeared in the Sep/Oct 2021 issue of Food Business Africa. You can read this and the entire magazine HERE