Haute Culture: The Rise of Yogurt

2012 appears to have definitely produced a dairy and food industry powerhouse: yogurt. Sales of yogurt are up 15% from 2010 and yogurt interests are gearing up for more of the same ahead. In the grocery store, in fast-food settings like McDonald’s, and elsewhere, the popularity of yogurt has seen remarkable growth in the past few years in the United States.

Several key industry moves indicate the strength of yogurt in the U.S. market. The introduction of greek-style yogurts by companies like Chobani and Fage has agreed with American taste buds: both are expanding their operations in the United States. Dannon, a well-known yogurt brand in the U.S. is increasing the size of its operation, and perhaps most interestingly, PepsiCo has put their hat into the ring. Partnering with Theo Muller, a German dairy company, PepsiCo is “investing $206 million in a 363,000-square-foot plant in Batavia, N.Y., announced in February, that will employ some 180 people and churn out five billion cups of yogurt a year.”

One of the hopes yogurt makers have is that this trend will continue, and that American consumption will begin to mirror consumption in Canada and in European countries: “Americans on average consumed 12 pounds of yogurt a year, or half as much as Canadians and a third the amount of Europeans.”

With such unprecedented growth, it is hard for yogurt producers to not be excited, but the question remains if the growth that has been witnessed reflects a fundamental change in the American palate, or if this surge of popularity reflects an extended fad. Only the coming years will be able to dictate which is the right answer, but in the meantime, the food industry is looking at yogurt with a new sense of vigor and respect.

At this juncture, the immediate future looks good for the product and yogurt producers are attempting to meet and push demand even further. As Stephanie Strom stated in her piece for the New York Times, “Let the yogurt wars begin.”

A Picture of Mathew J. Bartkowiak, Ph.D.

About Mathew J. Bartkowiak, Ph.D.

Laboratory Products Department Manager, Nelson-Jameson, Inc.
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