Launching on November 9, 2020, DAH! oat+ almond + coconut (OAC) yogurt cups will be available at Wegmans, Jewel-Osco, and select H-E-B locations. The launch is the next evolution of the company's current plant-based yogurt offering, DAH! Almond Yogurt.
According to retail sales data from SPINS and the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), sales of plant-based yogurt grew 31% in the 52 weeks ended Dec. 19, 2019, compared to a 1.2% drop in the dairy yogurt category.
And according to Nielsen data for the 52 weeks ending April 18, 2020, plant-based yogurt sales grew by 30.8% compared to 2019.
'An equitable exchange from the dairy side'
Three to four years ago, Burns and founder of DAH! JD Sethi took note of the number of non-dairy, plant-based yogurt products entering the market, but felt many didn't measure up to consumers' taste and health expectations.
“They were either high in added sugar, low in protein... a lot of them weren’t even cultured at the time, they used a lot of additives to create a yogurt-like feel, and a lot failed at even doing that,” claimed Burns.
“We needed it to not only match where our other products (i.e. DAH! dairy Lassis made from 100% grass-fed milk) were as far as taste and functionality, but we wanted to give the consumer an equitable exchange from the dairy side.”
Using a similar slow culture process used in its dairy Lassi yogurt smoothies, Sethi and Burns spent the last few years developing their take on a plant-based yogurt which uses a blend of oat (for natural sweetness), almond (for protein), and coconut (for texture).
“And what you end up with is a really, in my opinion, a game-changing plant-based yogurt product. It gives you 50 billion probiotics per cup, 8g of protein, and 15g of healthy fats,” said Burns.
Modernizing a 4,000-year-old Indian cultured dairy tradition
DAH! was founded ten years ago by Sethi who wanted to bring the yogurt lassis he grew up consuming in India to the US market. Sethi launched the brand (called Dahlicious at the time) in 2010, but was overshadowed by the rise of Greek yogurt which was taking off like a rocket ship with US consumers at the time.
When Burns first came across the brand a few years later, he admits to viewing the products as a little bit too fringe to succeed with an American audience, but changed his mind when he experienced the taste and quality of yogurt Sethi had created.
“JD had a real zest for wanting to produce the highest-quality, best-tasting products, and really immersed himself into the R&D and innovation side of the business. And, the more I did my own research I saw that Lassi really did, if done right, check all the boxes that consumers are looking for,” Burns told FoodNavigator-USA.
Burns joined DAH! full time in 2015 and helped reposition the entire line of Lassi products to be organic and made with grass-fed whole milk.
“What I started to learn about the cultured and yogurt space in general is that a lot of consumers really like origin stories. They like to be transported and are willing to take the leap and try new products when they had a rally solid origin story,” said Burns, citing the success of Chobani and siggi's, whose brand stories leaned heavily on their entrepreneurial founders.
With a fresh and punchy shorter name – DAH! – the company also began to embrace its origin story through its branding which spoke to its 4,000-year-old Indian roots.
DAH! has grown considerably in the past five years gaining national distribution with major retail accounts including Whole Foods, Wegmans, Walmart, and others.
In its effort to continually respond to consumer needs, in particular the rise of home cooking amid the pandemic, DAH! is also launching a plain dahi yogurt product in Q4 2020.
"Dahi is consumed with pretty much every meal in India. It’s used primarily in cooking and in recipes. We’re going to be heavy in showing our consumers how they can use it," said Burns.
"We always have our ear to the ground and want to listen to what consumers need as well as providing new, innovative, and transformative cultured dairy products."