Currently one in three yogurts sold in the US come from Danone’s diverse portfolio that includes Activia, Dannon, Danimals, Light & Fit, Oikos, Silk, So Delicious Dairy Free and Two Good, according to the company, which reports it expanded its share of the nearly $8 billion North American yogurt market to 33% in the past decade from 27% in 2007-2008.
Much of this growth came from strong innovations related to fast-growing segments, including sugar reduction, probiotics, children’s products and plant-based yogurt alternatives, the new president of yogurt at Danone North America Pedro Silveira told FoodNavigator-USA.
He explained that Danone capitalized on these trends beginning with the launch of the reduced-sugar Light & Fit Greek in 2010 through to the launch probiotic focused Activia Dailies in 2018 and the most recent launch in 2019 of Two Good Greek Yogurt.
Looking ahead to 2020, Silveira said Danone will continue to build on this strong foundation with the introduction of additional products within these same fast-paced growth areas.
“We see a tremendous amount of excitement of the consumers in everything related to low-sugar propositions. We also see new growth happening in the plant-based space and people are really talking about probiotics in a big way with all this concern about gut health. And finally, we see also a lot of things happening for kids and yogurt,” he explained.
Expanding yogurt’s appeal to parents and children
In the children’s food space, Silveira explained, that Danone will carefully balance the fun and flavor kids want with the nutrition their parent’s seek by building on the launch of Danimals Organic with a new line of smoothies.
“It is a very thin line that you have to play to address those two audiences” so that the products appeal to both children and parents, he said.
Danone will walk this line in part through a partnership with Disney to use Star Wars creatives on the packaging and marketing materials. At the same time, Silveira said, by making the products organic, “parents can see immediately that it is organic, which is what they are looking to give their kids.”
Playing in plant-based
Within the plant-based market, Danone will launch two new lines – Silk Almondmilk Yogurt Alternative Mix-ins and So Delicious Coconutmilk Yogurt Alternative Pairings – both of which Silveira said use the company’s years of knowledge and expertise making dairy yogurt to deliver the same experience to consumers in a plant-based format.
“We have to make sure when it comes to texture, when it comes to the flavor, when it comes to the aftertaste – we have to make sure we have the right resources, the right capabilities and manufacturing space in order to deliver a dairy like experience. This is key for me as we bring more consumers to the plant-based space and these consumers are not necessarily vegan, they are what we call flexitarian,” and therefore less willing to compromise on the eating experience, he said.
Reflecting on the attempts – and failures – in the past by multiple players to bring plant-based yogurt, Silveira said one strategy that Danone will use with these new launches is to layer in other trends at the same time.
“The growth spaces they don’t operate in isolation. So you have to make sure your product has a short list of ingredients. This is definitely a trend. At the same time, the plant-based is another trend and at the same time probiotics is a trend. So, you need to combine those three things and then you will have a fantastic product that I am sure will win,” he said.
The blending of these trends is most clearly laid out in the upcoming launch of Activia Less Sugar & More Good and Activia Dairy-Free yogurt alternatives.
Out of all the trends, sugar-reduction is perhaps the most influential which is one reason why it plays so heavily across many of Danone’s new launches, including the Light & Fit Icelandic Style Skyr Yogurt and the Oikos Nut Butter Blends and Oikos Sweetened with Honey and Maple syrup.
“The Oikos naturally sweetened line is a very interesting innovation that the team came up with to use our Greek product but to sweeten it with natural ingredients, like honey and maple syrup,” but they are still familiar ingredients that consumers know and trust, he said.
The Light & Fit Icelandic Style Skyr Yogurt builds on “the most successful innovation of the last 10 years in the Light & Fit line … and it has an amazing texture with high protein and low sugar and I am sure it will be very well received by consumers,” he said.
Reflecting on all the upcoming innovations, as well as the potential for additional growth in yogurt despite a recent flattening of the category, Silveira is optimistic, noting the next ten years will be growth and a tremendous amount of excitement by consumers and the brands.