Food processing giant General Mills has outlined plans to expand its presence to meet the demands of the “still developing” US yogurt category.
The firm issued its plans after outlining its expectations for the fiscal year (FY) 2012, which ends 27 May 2012, during a presentation at the Barclays Americas Select Committee in London.
It has predicted double digit net sales growth for the period, with its recent acquisition of yogurt firm Yoplait International contributing around $1bn in sales in the 10 months since its purchase.
The company intends to further develop the Yoplait brand and its yogurt segment in the US, as well as increasing its focus in emerging markets such as China and India.
General Mills executive vice president and chief financial officer Don Mulligan told the conference that the firm’s focus for FY2013 would be to “grow the core and add more” - growing its products in developed markets, while expanding into emerging economies.
Developing yogurt market
“While the US is a developed market in an economic sense it is it is still a developing market for yogurt,” said Mulligan.
“In the US, the category is only about 35 years old, and it is the emergence of new market segments that drives growth in this category. Greek yogurt is the latest market entry.”
Greek yogurt currently holds the largest dollar share of the US yogurt market – accounting for 28%.
Mulligan attributed this to price of Greek yogurt, which is typically higher than other products within the yogurt category.
However, light, regular and children’s yogurts are more popular in terms of the number of units sold, he said.
“Yoplait is a leading player in all of these market segments and we’re bringing a broad range of innovations to the category.”
The firm continues to lead the children’s US yogurt segment and in January, General Mills introduced a line of lactose-free yogurt products in order to meet the demands of US consumers, of which around 15% are lactose intolerant.
“Dairy products that are lactose free are growing at a double digit rate.”
Grow core, add more
General Mills directly owns Yoplait in several countries including the US, UK and France, as well as operating a network of licenses to sell Yoplait products in over 60 markets around the world.
Earlier this month, the firm announced that as of September 2012 it would begin to market, sell and distribute Yoplait yogurt products in Canada under license from Yoplait SAS.
The firm is looking to further expand the Yoplait brand in emerging markets such as India and China.
“Despite the size and growth of the global yogurt category, consumption is still concentrated in a fairly small number of developed markets.”
“We certainly see opportunities in China and India. These yogurt markets are currently very fragmented. We’re working to define and prioritise our opportunities to expand the Yoplait market,” added Mulligan.