Americans have found a new yogurt. According the to the numbers, Greek yogurt sales are dominating the market and look to continue that pattern.
Currently, Greek yogurt accounts for a quarter of the total U.S. yogurt market. The top two national Greek yogurt companies are Chobani and Fage, and each company is currently expanding their plants to meet the demands. Chobani produces an astounding 1.5 million cases of the thick yogurt every week. Consumers are foregoing the thinner, sometimes watery, version of yogurt for the thick creamy blends of Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt unique texture is achieved by straining off the whey, leaving a creamier yogurt with nearly twice the amount of protein of a traditional.
Many foods have been issued fad status and some of the rapid growth of Greek yogurt may be attributed to that. However, there’s a strong industry belief that Greek yogurt is here to stay. Its rapid rise to fame may speak to its predicted longevity.
In 2005, Hamdi Ulukaya bought an old Kraft Foods plant in New York state. He planned to make the type of yogurt that was common to his home country of Turkey. He didn’t feel the current yogurt in stores was being made right so Ulukaya and his company Agro-Farma began producing yogurt for companies like Stonyfield Farms and eventually, his current company, Chobani, was launched in 2007.
Ulukaya produced Greek yogurt for limited release in a few New York stores in 2007, and the rest, they say, is history. Today, he is expecting to be producing more than 2 million cases a week once the expansion project is complete. Additionally, there is a new Chobani plant being built in Twin Falls, Idaho that will add even more to production. These numbers seem too high to be a fad.
As consumers continued to show their preference by their spending, other companies got in the Greek yogurt game. Currently Chobani has 53% of the market, Fage has 17%, Dannon (Oikos) has 14%, and General Mills (Yoplait Greek) has 5%.
A walk to the yogurt case at any grocery store will tell this story too. The options of Greek yogurt are nearly overwhelming. Given the state of most of the country’s diet though, this is a good problem. Here’s to wishing Greek yogurt its permanent residence in the U.S.
January 30th, 2012