- Stonyfield Organic is debuting dairy-free, portable smoothies this week at Whole Foods stores nationwide.
- Made with fruits, vegetables and coconut cream, these pouches come in three flavors: Berry Cherry Blast Smoothie, Tropical Twist Smoothie and Strawbana Smash Smoothie.
- The product was in part inspired by a survey that showed plant-based options and dairy alternative products are continuing to rise in popularity with the growth rates reaching almost 20%, according to a study conducted by Touchstone Research on behalf of Stonyfield.
After a decade of growth, yogurt sales are beginning to slow down as the aisle becomes more crowded. In an effort to stand out from the pack and combat struggling yogurt sales, Stonyfield Organic is releasing a plant-based product in portable packaging. The new product hits on several popular trends with consumers.
Stonyfield is turning to these trends as it faces several obstacles. Not only have yogurt sales slowed, but so has growth in the organic industry. Rabobank found while organic food sales increased by an average of 10% per year between 2010 and 2016, that pace has cooled to 6% for the past two years. As the desire for organic products stalls, companies are looking toward better-for-you formulations and convenient packaging to convince consumers to pick up their products.
For dairy milk products, a category that has seen sales slip 15% since 2012, packaging innovations have proven to be an effective method to grab consumers' attention. One of those innovations has been standup pouches, typically made from flexible plastic surrounding an aluminum core, and designed to have resealable, wide-mouth openings for easy consumer access. Daisy, which introduced a standup pouch with a flip cap for its Daisy Squeeze sour cream line in 2015, reported a 69.7% increase in sales as a result of the packaging.
Although this packaging used to be relegated to the baby food market, research from Mintel shows that 32% of consumers associate flexible packaging with innovation as they allow for on-the-go servings, a popular nutritional solution for time-strapped consumers seeking convenience. However, it is possible that millennials also subconsciously associate these squeeze pouches with childhood. That fond association could prompt households now headed by those who remember these pouches to buy them for their own families. The market for these pouches was hovering around $20 million in 2016 and has expanded at about 10% to 15% annually.
But this new packaging may not be enough to help Stonyfield stand out. Smoothies are the epitome of convenient nutrition and several companies have recently released convenient, single-serving smoothie options with on-the-go packaging. Kraft Heinz debuted Fruitlove spoonable smoothies last month and Dole doled out its own spoonable smoothies in two flavors earlier this spring. Kellogg's venture capital fund invested in Bright Greens, which went another direction with frozen cubes that can be made into smoothies simply with a glass of water.
Perhaps the fact that Stonyfield sells portable smoothies with a dairy-free formulation will be enough to turn some heads. The company already offers smoothies in its product portfolio, but this is the first without dairy. Animal-free eating has recently surged in popularity, with 17% of U.S. consumers aged 15 to 70 currently claiming to eat a predominately plant-based diet, according to HealthFocus International data.
It seems wise for Stonyfield to branch out beyond its dairy-centric portfolio and focus on the growing segment of consumers looking for plant-based alternatives. Even if the company doesn't strike gold with this product, as the demand for convenience and better-for-you products grows and organic dims as a desirable point of differentiation, it would not be surprising to see Stonyfield continue to release innovative products as it looks for the next thing that will make it stand out on shelves.