Though yogurt is consumed at a much smaller rate per capita in the U.S. compared to other countries, recent years have exposed a great deal of excitement for the product. Yogurt has risen from the misconception by some consumers as merely being ice cream's "ugly cousin" or a slightly more palatable cottage cheese alternative to now occupying a prominent place in the pantheon of better-for-you food choices. It is the protein- and probiotic-packed snack America always needed, even if it took the emergence of Greek yogurt in all its exotic varieties for it to become the snack America also wanted.
Yet the time has come for food marketers to look beyond Greek yogurt. For all the activity Greek yogurt has brought the industry (including Greek yogurt being offered as a meat substitute in public schools nationwide), it's undeniable that Greek yogurt sales have noticeably begun to mature, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts in the report The Yogurt Market and Yogurt Innovation, 2nd Edition.
While Packaged Facts does not expect Greek yogurt sales to evaporate, yogurt marketers will need to find other ways to keep the market growing. Some marketers have already started to recognize this. They're now focusing on segments with growth potential, such as babies/toddlers and kids. Concentrating on this segment, the thinking goes, should help generate future adult yogurt buyers. The industry is also trying to expand consumption to other dayparts besides breakfast, particularly emphasizing yogurt as a snack. Presently, the majority of yogurt is consumed before 11 am with very little consumption after 4 pm.
Packaged Facts estimates the U.S. market for yogurt sold at retail to be almost $9 billion in 2014, up 3.4%. As previously mentioned, this growth can be attributed to one subcategory: Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt went from being just 1% of the market in 2007 to becoming the most important trend shaping the industry. However, growth has slowed considerably in the last year, down from recent years when it was high single digits or more annually. Nevertheless, the market's outlook remains favorable so long as marketers continue to expand the presence of yogurt into other areas. Looking ahead, Packaged Facts estimates that yogurt sales will hit $10.3 billion by 2017.