Fage USA marketing director Russell Evans was speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after Chobani revealed that it was looking at building a third production site in North America , this time in Canada.
He said: “Fage [pronounced ‘fa-yeh’] has been averaging 50% growth every year for the last 10 years in the US market, and with US per capita yogurt consumption a third of what it is in Western Europe, we still see tremendous potential for growth.
“We’re seeing growth across all regions of the US from California to Maine.”
New entrants to market are good for the category
The fact that several other major players had moved into the market since Fage started selling Greek yogurt to New Yorkers in the late 1990s was good for the category, claimed Evans.
“Increased investment by the competition is positive in helping grow the overall category. Our focus is to provide consumers with the benefits of our 85 years of experience in producing authentic Greek yogurt.
“We have a superior product. It’s a unique indulgence in that it is an indulgent product that is high protein, low fat or zero fat, low carb and good for you.”
$120m expansion plan to double capacity
He added: “We are currently in the middle of a $120m expansion program to double the capacity of our plant in Johnstown New York from around 80,000t/year to 160,000t, which will take a couple of years to complete.”
There would also be more news on the product development front this year, said Evans, although he would not provide details.
Owned by the Filippou family, Fage is Greece’s leading yogurt company, and now sells products to 25 countries.
The firm, which is credited with introducing many Americans to Greek yogurt, open its US plant in Johnstown, New York in 2008.
Greek yogurt boom
All of the key players in the US yogurt market have been investing heavily in Greek yogurt over the past year, with Chobani, General Mills (Yoplait) and Dannon all adding new manufacturing capacity to meet growing demand.
PepsiCo, which recently announced plans to enter the US yogurt market via a joint venture with German firm Müller - has not revealed whether Greek yogurts will form part of its new branded range. However, market researchers believe that this is likely given that Greek yogurts are driving overall category growth.
Evans declined to comment on the progress of Fage’s ongoing legal battle with General Mills over the use of the word ‘Total’ on product packaging.
Click here for details of the dispute.