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The rise and rise of Greek yogurt. But is the growth sustainable?

By Elaine WATSON , 09-Apr-2013

Sales growth at Chobani, which only started producing Greek yogurt in 2007, has been nothing short of meteoric in recent years. The firm, which is America’s top selling yogurt brand, now commands more than 20% of the overall US yogurt market (dollar share).

Sales growth at Chobani, which only started producing Greek yogurt in 2007, has been nothing short of meteoric in recent years. The firm, which is America’s top selling yogurt brand, now commands more than 20% of the overall US yogurt market (dollar share).

From a standing start in 2007 - when it accounted for just 1% of refrigerated yogurt sales in the US food, drug and mass channels excluding Walmart (FDMx) - Greek yogurt now commands a whopping 35% share of the market, according to a new report from Packaged Facts. 

According to ’The Yogurt Market and Yogurt Innovation: Greek Yogurt and Beyond’ , dollar sales of Greek yogurt increased by more than 50% in 2012 to about $1.6bn, taking its share of the market to 35% compared with about 25% in 2011, estimates the market researcher.

At the same time, non-Greek yogurt has seen its sales decrease by 8%. While Greek unit sales have also skyrocketed, non-Greek sales are down, leading to an overall decrease in unit sales.”

'Price competition has caused some sales growth areas to slow and major players to compete in a zero sum game for market share'

According to SymphonyIRI data, the US refrigerated yogurt category (yogurt and yogurt drinks) grew around 6.3% in calendar year 2012 in FDMx channels, reaching $4.89bn, with growth largely attributable to premium priced Greek yogurt, as overall unit sales in the category dipped 0.9% over the same period.

But can the meteoric growth in Greek continue?

“While Greek yogurt will continue to rapidly grow and take with it the overall yogurt market, Packaged Facts does not believe it can keep up its amazing growth pace”, says the report.

“As of first quarter 2013, price competition has caused some sales growth areas to slow and major players to compete in a zero sum game for market share.”

Per capita consumption of yogurt in the US is far lower than it is in most western European countries

General Mills’ Yoplait Greek 100 yogurt is on track to deliver $100m in retail sales in its first year on the market, revealed CEO Ken Powell on the firm’s Q3 earnings call: “This product is expanding the buy rate of current yogurt consumers and bringing new users into the category.”

However, given that per capita consumption of yogurt is still far lower in the US than in many other western markets, there is clearly a lot of untapped potential, says Packaged Facts.

“Many in the industry remind that yogurt, which is consumed at a much lower rate per capita in the U.S. compared to other countries, continues to have significant upside potential.

“With yogurt growing its consumption share in various day parts and with the wide ranging push for healthier eating in the US, the category’s future looks bright.”

The overall US retail market for refrigerated yogurt and yogurt drinks was worth $7.3bn in 2012, up 6.6% on 2011

Packaged Facts estimates that the overall US retail market for refrigerated yogurt and yogurt drinks was worth $7.3bn in 2012, up 6.6% on 2011, with all the growth driven by Greek.

By 2017, it estimates the market will be worth $9.3bn. 

Click here for more details. 

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