General Mills unveils ‘intentionally less sweet’ YQ by Yoplait: ‘It’s unlike anything that exists in the yogurt aisle today’

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Yoplait USA: 'We’ve created a protein-packed, less sweet flavor profile with a thick, smooth, extra creamy texture..."
Yoplait USA: 'We’ve created a protein-packed, less sweet flavor profile with a thick, smooth, extra creamy texture..."
Following on from the success of its French-style yogurt Oui, General Mills has unveiled YQ by Yoplait, a 99% lactose-free yogurt made with ultra-filtered milk (milk filtered to concentrate the protein and reduce the lactose/milk sugar) that “delivers big on protein with an intentionally less sweet taste.”

The plain variety delivers 1g sugar and 17g protein per 5.3oz cup, while the flavored varieties contain 9g sugar and 15g protein – similar to Siggi’s Icelandic yogurt/skyr.

We talked to thousands of people to really understand what they were missing from the yogurt aisle. We heard loud and clear the need for a smart snack option – something made with simple ingredients, less sugar and higher protein​,” said Doug Martin, vice president of marketing for Yoplait USA.

“Through our use of simple ingredients, ultra-filtered milk and active cultures, we’ve created a protein-packed, less sweet flavor profile with a thick, smooth, extra creamy texture. It’s unlike anything that exists in the yogurt aisle today.”

Rather than straining the yogurt (as per Icelandic skyr or Greek yogurt), YQ by Yoplait uses ultra-filtered milk, which is then combined with active cultures and goes through a “special churning technique, perfected by Yoplait in France​,” says the company.

The result is a differential nutritional profile without the tart tang or chalky aftertaste of Greek-style yogurts.”

YQ by Yoplait will be available nationwide beginning in late June (MSRP $1.49/5.3oz cup, $4.99/26oz tub).

Perspective Branding: Great brand idea with smart, simple name... but

So what do branding and design experts make of the new product?

Simon Thorneycroft, founder and CEO at design agency Perspective Branding, told FoodNavigator-USA: "This is a great brand idea with a smart, simple name that does a great job of reinforcing the proposition and [makes a ] brave go at breaking through a super tough category with the brown-ish sort of background. It may do a good job of standing out on shelf, although that environment is very dark."

What does this brand deliver to me as a food experience; taste, texture?

That said, what does the brand really mean to consumers, he asked?

"Isn’t this just another stripped down, characterless brand design that is no longer new or fresh? Frankly, I am bored of it already. Haven’t many brands already pioneered this look, including ‘Brandless’, RX Bar etc?

Simon Thorneycroft Perspective Branding
Simon Thorneycroft: 'What does this brand deliver to me as a food experience; taste, texture? Where is the mystery, the tease?'

"If we are going to just have functional graphics, then I think this will be a tough system to extend and keep differentiation clear – the peach and strawberry are already starting to look very similar to me. So, is it simple … or has the simplicity actually created more work for the consumers?"

He added: "I get that we want good stuff to put into our bodies, but what does this brand deliver to me as a food experience; taste, texture? Where is the mystery, the tease? Have we really just ended up in a world where packaging looks like a bus timetable? I do hope not."

Interact Boulder: The dairy space is ripe for a no-frills, straightforward hero

Blake Mitchell, principal at branding and packaging studio Interact Boulder, however, was far more enthusiastic, telling us: "It may not be the warmest, friendliest or [most] emotional brand, but it is the most real - and that's pretty human."

He added: "Yoplait's launched something people actually want (assuming their insights from qual/quant and ethnographies are true, which we believe they are). The consumer is clearly someone who's paying attention to what he or she is eating, understands the evolving food landscape and is actively looking for alternatives. 

"With this hunt for better, also comes a desire not to just break away from nutritional norms, but branding, marketing, and messaging norms. It's no coincidence then that the most conventional, mundane and monotonous category of all time, the dairy space, would be ripe for a no-frills, straightforward hero.

"YQ gives consumers exactly what they want - and we think that's a big sigh of relief. RX Bar delivered in a category rife with a protein-arms-race. Here, instead of the flavorful promise everyone delivers, the origin of cows and origin of dairy, YQ says 'you don't need to be treated like a herd of cows' and finally gives you what you're looking for."

General Mills: Category-expanding innovation

Speaking on General Mills' Q3 earnings call in March, CEO Jeffrey Harmening said US yogurt net sales were down 8% during the quarter, but that trends were improving.

He added: "On US yogurt, we've improved our retail sales trends by 16 points this year by innovating into faster growing spaces. Our retail sales were down just 3% in February and we actually grew a market share in the grocery channel last month. We're pleased with our U.S. yogurt improvement but we're not yet fully satisfied.

"We continue to improve by building on recent successes and by launching new category expanding innovation. For instance, we recently launched new flavors of Oui by Yoplait and Yoplait mix-ins; the top two yogurt launches this fiscal year."​ 


Ingredients list, blueberry flavor:​ Pasteurized Grade A Ultra-Filtered Milk, Blueberries, Cane Sugar, Pectin, Black Carrot Juice (for color), Natural Flavor, Yogurt Cultures (L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilus).

Each 5.3oz cup of blueberry YQ contains 130 calories, 9g sugar and 15g protein.

Get more details about YQ HERE​.



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