In a new report, Packaged Facts estimated the U.S. yogurt industry is worth about $9 billion. Sales are expected to grow at a steady rate through 2022.
Consumer interest in the product's perceived health benefits, flavor and format innovation — as well as yogurt's appeal as a convenient snack or meal replacement — have been driving growth.
During the next five years Packaged Facts said yogurt drinks will continue to grow in popularity. In addition, major marketers will respond to opportunities in growth niches such as plant-based and vegan non-dairy yogurt.
Yogurt has enjoyed a favorable reputation in recent years, buoyed by its perceived health benefits, ready-to-eat convenience and flavor versatility.
The U.S. market is continuing to grow, but it's also changing dramatically. Longtime leader General Mills and its Yoplait brand ceded the market throne in 2016 to Chobani, which is credited with driving the Greek yogurt trend in the U.S. Analysts attribute Yoplait's struggles to its weakness in the Greek yogurt market, according to Bloomberg News.
Much of Chobani's success comes from the U.S. consumer's interest in low-sugar, high-protein yogurt applications — characteristics found in global varieties. And thanks to the familiarity of Greek yogurt, the segment has embraced other international-style yogurts, such as French, Australian and Icelandic varieties.
CNBC reported earlier this year that Icelandic yogurt products like Siggi's — which was acquired by French dairy company Lactalis last month — have jumped by 73%. Many of these international varieties boast simple ingredients and no added preservatives or flavors, appealing to the growing crowd of clean-label consumers. General Mills has found success with Oui by Yoplait, a French-style product sold in glass jars and made with whole milk, pure cane sugar and real pieces of fruit.
The future of yogurt lies beyond international variations, however. NPD Group noted that opportunity exists for manufacturers who build more occasions for yogurt. Noosa has found success by jumping into the growing mix-in yogurt market, pairing its Australian-style product with toppings such as granola, nuts and chocolate. These mix-ins allow the company to compete for consumers throughout the day, and gives it access to the growing snacks market. Mintel reported two years ago that 84% of consumers choose yogurt as an afternoon snack, compared to 41% in 2014.
Yogurt drinks have found success for the same reason, with sales increasing 62% from 2011-2016, according to Mintel. Drinkable yogurt “is one of the few food and drink spaces where launch activity sees brand-new products outpacing simple variations on form,” said Beth Bloom, a Mintel senior analyst. Other emerging yogurt innovations include plant-based, vegan and non-dairy yogurts. This is highlighted by Danone's acquisition of Silk almond milk parent WhiteWave last year, which could signal future experimentation with plant or nut-based yogurt solutions.