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    PG WEB EXTRA: Culture Club

    Why yogurt, Greek or otherwise, is causing such a stir

    Yogurt gets a boost for good health and great taste

    In the wake of the Greek yogurt craze, yogurt remains a superfood with a significant upside, according to a recently released report from Packaged Facts, The Yogurt Market and Yogurt Innovation: Greek Yogurt and Beyond.

    Packaged Facts forecasts that U.S. retail sales of yogurt will approach $9.3 billion by 2017, up from $7.3 billion in 2012. Even with its recent market growth, yogurt continues to be consumed at a much lower per capita rate in the United States than in other countries, where yogurt is a staple. Moreover, yogurt is spreading beyond the breakfast daypart, reflecting the “breakfast all day” culinary and menu trend.

    In the U.S. market, retail dollar sales of Greek yogurt increased more than 50 percent in 2012 to reach $1.6 billion, with significant gains in the mass-market as well as natural and specialty retail channels. At the same time, non-Greek yogurt saw its sales decrease.

    “Greek yogurt has raised its share of the refrigerated yogurt market to 35 percent, up from only 1 percent in 2007,” says David Sprinkle, publisher of Rockland, Md.-based Packaged Facts. Even though it is unlikely that Greek yogurt can keep up its growth marathon, Greek yogurt has continued to increase market sales and share through the first quarter of 2013.

    Private label controls a large share of the market in refrigerated yogurt, in aggregate ranking as the No. 2 brand overall, with growth outpacing the market. In frozen yogurt, private label ranks as the No. 1 brand, although it’s a far less important player in yogurt drinks. The restaurant and foodservice industry is also getting in on the action, with Chobani and Dannon opening up their own yogurt shops, and yogurt appearing on more restaurant menus.

    The Packaged Facts report also shows how innovative marketers are driving the yogurt and especially Greek yogurt bandwagon into other food categories. Yogurt’s popularity and “healthy halo” have propelled a spillover into product categories such as smoothies, frozen yogurt and novelties, cream cheese and butter, salad dressings, dips and spreads, and granola bars, among others.


    Nutritional Summit

    The first Global Yogurt Summit was organized by the Bethesda, Md.-based American Society for Nutrition in conjunction with the 2013 annual Experimental Biology conference in Boston. The day-long summit on April 24 was underwritten by Danone Institute International. Among the topics discussed was the growing body of evidence that shows eating yogurt helps create a balanced diet and healthier lifestyle.

    Despite yogurt’s seeming popularity, Americans eat very little yogurt – on average less than one cup , per person per week – and most yogurts contain nutrients that are lacking in the American diet, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium, The Dannon Co. reports. Yogurt can be an excellent source of high-quality protein, which helps with satiety, and promotes muscle and bone health. In terms of nutrients to limit, nonfat and low-fat yogurts are low in sodium and saturated fat.

    For those who are lactose-intolerant, dairy avoidance is a major obstacle to obtaining adequate calcium and vitamin D in their diets. Yogurt is considered a good alternative to milk because it contains less lactose, and yogurt has less sodium and saturated fat than most cheeses.

    “Recent epidemiological studies show that frequent yogurt consumption is associated with less weight gain over time and healthy levels of blood pressure and circulating glucose,” says Miguel Freitas, health affairs director for White Plains, N.Y.-based Dannon.

    Michael Neuwirth, Dannon’s senior director of public relations, adds: “As the leading yogurt maker here and worldwide, we believe that eating yogurt every day is an important first step toward creating a more balanced diet, a healthier lifestyle and improving public health.”

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