ACNielsen has shone the spotlight on drinkable yogurt as the fastest growing food and beverage product, findings that may inspire healthy ingredient manufacturers to more aggressively target this functional beverage format.
Omega-3, phytosterols and probiotics have made headway into diary products across the board in recent years. According to the analyst's report "What's hot around the globe - insights on growth in food & beverage products", drinkable yogurt stands out as the fastest growing seller not just in dairy but in the food and beverage industry as a whole.
Plugged in part by marketing, the popularity of these beverages appears to cover a wide and diverse territory across the world, due perhaps to a combination of their functionality and portability.
"Drinkable Yogurt is not only healthy and good tasting, but in many cases, the packaging offers the convenience and portability that consumers crave," said Jane Perrin, senior vice president and managing director for ACNielsen Global Services.
ACNielsen categorized yogurt drinks as among the products whose sales totaled more than $1b worldwide, though it has not publicly released the exact market figures for the category.
Drinkable Yogurts were number one on ACNeilsen's list of food and beverage products in terms of performance - having exhibited year-over-year growth in 40 of the 45 markets measured. Twenty-nine of these markets are scattered around the world growing at more than ten percent.
China topped the list with a whopping 49 percent year-over-year growth rate. In other markets, including Greece, Romania, Finland, and Italy, drinkable yogurts grew by more than 40 percent.
In the United States, growth was not as strong, with drinkable yogurt showing only a five percent growth rate.
According to ACNeilsen, marketing helped the growth of all beverage categories, including drinkable yogurts. In Spain, Israel and Great Britain, for example, drinkable yogurt and pro-biotic yogurt were said to have bene positioned as "heart healthy" - which in turn appears to have brought about strong growth in the category.
ACNielsen's surveyed more than 100 categories of products across 66 countries, from mid-year 2006 through mid-year 2005. These 66 markets account for more than 90 percent of the world's real gross domestic product and over 75 percent of the world's population.
The report was based on purchase information from retailers in grocery, drug and mass merchandise outlets and generally excludes kiosks or vending machines. In a few markets, sales from convenience stores may be included.