In just over seven years, the Colorado-based company, which has been backed by private-equity firm Advent International since 2014, has expanded distribution to 25,000 stores nationwide. The company’s sweet spot in the market is offering products with a thick, velvety texture that wasn’t as sweet as many traditional US yogurts or as tart as Greek.
The company burst through the $100 million revenue ceiling in 2015 and recent IRI data has pegged the company at $218 million. “It’s a real testament to staying focused on what we do, which is making bloody good yogurt.”
“Yogurt needs to be more than something you eat for breakfast”
Since the Advent investment, the company has, “doubled down on quality, and invested in our plant”, said Thomae. The company has a strong presence in its home state market in Colorado and has been testing new flavors exclusively there, such as palisade peach this summer. “That was a huge success. We thought it would take four months to sell through it, and we sold out in two.”
The company’s products are available in 25,000 stores nationwide, in every major retailer in the county, said Thomae. “We are a premium product and we cannot be all things to all people but with about 80% ACV distribution, we’re in our sweet spot and right where we want to be.”
The yogurt category has experienced an interesting 12 months. The category has flattened, she said, but noosa continues to be “the darling of grocery stores with such explosive growth”.
“Retailers are challenging all brands to be more innovative and to boost consumption. Yogurt needs to be more than something you eat for breakfast.” To this end, the company launched its noosa mates range earlier this summer, which pair whole milk yogurt with toppings like roasted nuts, pretzels, granola, and chocolate.
The noosa mates range is designed for snacking, with the company trying to replicate its yogurt with great tasting toppings, said Thomae.
“We don’t try and launch 100 things at a time,” she said. “The mates came into the fray this summer and we’re really innovating against this line with new flavors coming in January.
While the company has also looked at frozen yogurt, snacking represented the bigger immediate opportunity, she said. “We continue to look at adjacencies and frozen yogurt is something that could happen in the next two years or so.”
So what about opportunities with savory yogurt? A recent article by FoodNavigator-USA looked into the fortunes of players in that space, which have been mixed.
“I do think there’s a place for savory yogurts but as a mainstream offering it’s a ways out,” said Thomae. “American consumers are not quite there yet. We continue to talk about it internally and we’d love to do it because we think we could do it in a way that’s amazing and delicious, but most Americans cannot wrap their head around it."
“We’re continuing to look at culinary trends, what’s happening at grocery stores and at farmers markets and in restaurants. We’re always looking for innovation a little bit off the beaten track.”
Koel Thomae co-founded noosa yoghurt in 2009 with Robert Graves, a fourth-generation dairy farmer with a Colorado farm. Thomae is involved in the day-to-day operations, shapes company culture and has expanded her team of 35 to 240, to date.