- General Mills is bringing French-stype Yoplait Saveur d’Autrefois yogurt to the United States, the company said in a statement. The product name, which translates to “taste of yesteryear," is currently sold in France, and uses simple ingredients such as whole milk, pure cane sugar and real pieces of fruit.
- The yogurt will be sold in the U.S. under the brand name Oui by Yoplait. It is an artisanal yogurt made by pouring ingredients into individual glass pots that set after eight hours, creating a unique texture, General Mills said. It is designed to be spoon cut slowly, not stirred, in order to preserve its thick, subtly sweet and fresh taste.
- The new yogurt, which contains no artificial preservatives or flavors and no colors from artificial sources, is available in eight varieties. The plain variety is made with only two ingredients — whole milk and yogurt cultures. The remaining flavors each contain eight or fewer total ingredients.
General Mills said the method for making French-style yogurt differs from the process used in the United States. Instead of culturing the ingredients in large batches and then filling individual cups with fully prepared yogurt, Oui by Yoplait is made by pouring ingredients into each individual pot and allowing the glass container to culture for eight hours, resulting in a uniquely thick yogurt.
The company said the glass container, while rare in the U.S., is often used in France to protect the texture of yogurt. It also enables the substance to stabilize without the use of added corn starch or gelatin.
A study by Transparency Market Research showed the North American yogurt market was valued at $11.18 billion in 2015 and is projected to reach $14.59 billion by 2024, growing at a compound annual growth of 3% from 2016 to 2024. Many analysts predict the category will benefit from more product diversification and improved packaging methods that enhanced the product's shelf life.
But General Mills hasn't been among the beneficiaries of this growth recently, even though yogurt contributes about 13% of its sales. In 2016, Chobani overtook Yoplait — the segment's long-established leader — to become the U.S.'s largest brand.
In this case, General Mills is not only turning to a new flavor profile with the French-style yogurt, but also embracing a cleaner label popular with consumers. The new yogurt has no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors and no colors from artificial sources. The packaging also is key for Oui by Yoplait. A clear glass jar cultivates a symbol of class and transparency that may not be found in the standard plastic container.
General Mills needs to improve its sales in the segment to reverse the drop in sales at the company. Last year, it committed to overhauling 60% of its yogurt business to better align with consumer trends, adding new Greek varieties, flavors and organic options. The Minnesota company reports earnings Wednesday, which will allow investors to gauge its progress.
The new Yoplait yogurt is a good start. The company would be wise to engage in a sweeping television and print campaign while displaying material at supermarkets to promote the product and underscore to consumers how it's different than the dozens of other brands lining the refrigerated section at the local grocery store.