- Danone launched a line of oat milk yogurts under its So Delicious brand, according to a release. The new products are available in Whole Foods stores nationwide.
- The alternative yogurt comes in four flavors: Triple Berry, Spiced Pear & Fig, Strawberry Rhubarb and Sweet Mango. The individual 5.3-ounce portion of yogurt will be sold for $1.89.
- Each flavor is nut-free, soy-free, vegan, gluten-free and Non-GMO Project Verified. The product will be a part of the company's growing dairy alternative portfolio, which includes milks, frozen desserts and another yogurt brand from Oat Yeah.
Oat milk is quickly becoming the trendy new product in the alternative milk and yogurt segment. As yogurt sales tumble, more consumers are looking to swap in substitutes and that has created a growth opportunity for brands. The global dairy alternatives market is expected to pass $34 billion by 2024, according to ReportBuyer.
Although there are a variety of alternatives out there, from almond and soy milks to coconut and hemp milks, oat is becoming the next big thing. When used for yogurt, the dairy alternative packs almost twice as much protein as almond milk and does not require a myriad of thickeners or chemical compounds to achieve the proper consistency. It is also more sustainable than nut milk options because oats don't require as much water to produce, according to a report from the Institute for Water Education. These advantages have quickly raised the appeal of this grain-based milk in both manufacturers' and consumers' eyes.
A FreshDirect report found that oat milk is replacing nut-based milk in consumer popularity. According to Nielsen data reported by Food Navigator, oat milk grew 32.5% from 2017 to 2018, while almond milk rose only 11.5% and coconut milk just 1%.
But this bump in oat milk's popularity has also increased competition. Other companies have recently introduced oat beverages, including Oatly, Planet Oat, Elmhurst, Thrive Market, Pacific Foods and Happy Planet. There are also other oat-based products appearing in the marketplace, such as Hälsa's vegan drinkable "oatgurt" that debuted at Wegmans last summer.
Even though the So Delicious oat yogurt is new, Danone already has a portfolio of products with the ingredient. The company's Silk brand introduced Oat Yeah oat milks and yogurts earlier this year. The So Delicious brand also rolled out frozen desserts in the spring.
Because there are more oat milks than yogurts currently on the market, So Delicious could have an early advantage. But the yogurt aisle is continuing to get more crowded amid the struggle in sales for traditional dairy. Yogurt sales have been down each of the last two years following a decade of growth, according to Nielsen data reported by The Wall Street Journal. Companies are searching for the right substitute, launching everything from buffalo milk yogurt to Greek yogurt with nut butters. Adding more options to an already crowded category could cause consumers to simply overlook a new product. It could also have a positive impact and reenergize the space.
There is another looming threat to the alternative milk market. Dairy producers and alternative milk manufacturers have been clashing over the use of the word "milk" in conjunction with non-dairy alternatives. The FDA is still assessing the meaning of the term, but its verdict could potentially change the alternative dairy industry. In preparation, Danone is calling its new product a "yogurt alternative" in hopes of allaying some potential backlash. At the same time, the company employs the term "oat milk," which is the current convention to refer to an oat-based beverage competing in the dairy segment. Depending on how the FDA rules on use of the word "milk," that may need to change in the future.
This new product is likely only the tip of the plant-based iceberg for Danone, which in February opened a multi-million dollar expansion of a facility in Pennsylvania focused only on making plant-based foods. With plant-based sales increasing 11% in the last year and continued growth expected, it is likely that more big names like Danone will be investing heavily and developing new products in this space.