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Retail success of Califia Farms dairy-free probiotic yogurt drinks signals a ‘real tipping point for the future of the category’

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Califia Farms has achieved broad retail acceptance for its dairy-free probiotic yogurt drinks since launching less than seven months ago.
Califia Farms has achieved broad retail acceptance for its dairy-free probiotic yogurt drinks since launching less than seven months ago.

Related tags Califia farms Plant-based foods Yogurt Probiotics

Califia Farms’ dairy-free probiotic yogurt drinks line (launched in February 2018) has entered nearly 7,000 stores in 47 states sold in 42 retail chains making it the company’s most broadly accepted product line by retail channel as consumers continue to seek out more plant-based options.

According to Califia Farms, in the latest 12 weeks the probiotic dairy-free yogurt line​ has achieved a 60% gain [in distribution] compared to the same time last year.

The probiotic dairy free yogurt drinks have been “broadly accepted”​ with cross-channel adoption at conventional grocery, natural and specialty, convenience store, drug and mass retailers including Whole Foods, Kroger, and 7-Eleven.

The probiotic dairy-free yogurt drinks took some time to develop -- two and a half years, according to the company -- because of challenges formulating an appealing taste profile for a plant-based yogurt drink that delivered significant probiotic benefits.

As Califia Farms' ceo and co-founder, Greg Steltenpohl, previously told FoodNavigator-USA​: “If you follow our principle, which is to use whole food ingredients, then the problem with plant-based ingredients is they have a lot of other components which are not usually that friendly to the palate in a liquid format. In other words, they have too much vegetable fiber, which contributes off-flavors or they might be too heavy on the carbohydrate component and not have enough things that the probiotics like to consume.” 

The proprietary formula the company came up with – developing a way to batch ferment the BB-12 probiotic strain in a non-dairy yogurt – has gone over well with consumers who are increasingly adopting plant-based dairy alternatives especially in drinkable yogurt and smoothies category.

According to Packaged Facts’ recent Breakfast Product Trends report, consumer retail sales of drinkable yogurt and yogurt smoothies grew faster than any other category at 19.9%, from $760m in 2016 to $911m in 2017. The report also projects that drinkable yogurt will continue to grow another 13% by 2022.

Califia Farms probiotic dairy free yogurts are available in multi- and single-serve in four flavor varieties: strawberry, super berry, mango, and unsweetened plain.

“The immediate appeal of our new probiotic dairy free yogurt drinks across a wide variety of retail channels underscores the increased demand and mass acceptance for innovative plant-based products that have a great taste profile,”​ Steltenpohl said.

“To put in perspective, it normally takes several years for new products to incubate in natural and specialty stores before being picked up by mainstream retailers. This represents a real tipping point for the future of the category.”

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