A walk down the yogurt aisle in your local grocery store probably looks different now than it did a few years ago. Most everyone in North America is familiar with the sundae, or fruit-on-the-bottom, yogurts, as well as the sweetened, blended yogurts that have dominated the diary aisle. But now they’re being eclipsed by new brands and varieties.
More Yogurt, More Often
More people seem to be eating yogurt (see also yoghurt), more often and there are more new varieties and novel flavors than ever. In the U.S., these all seem to have started with the launch of Greek-style yogurt (EU), or strained yogurt. And due to its popularity, Greek-style yogurt has moved beyond the yogurt aisle, and is used in cereals, dips, salad dressings, mixed with butter or cream cheese, and in bakery items to replace milks and fats. The public’s gravitation to this dense yogurt has fueled new yogurt varieties that are unique and not necessarily Greek-style.
Yogurt Varieties from Across the Globe
The following yogurt products are currently hitting store shelves in the western market. They may inspire you to use them in your product development due to their novel flavor possibilities.
Skyr (pronounced “skeer”) is a tart, thick, strained non-fat yogurt traditionally found in Iceland. That being said, one U.S. manufacturer is including full fat varieties, while another is launching a line of organic, low sugar skyr smoothies soon.
Quark (EU) (pronounced in German as “kvark”) is not actually a yogurt, but a soft cheese, which typically has no salt or rennet added. Certain varieties in the US have added vegetable rennet, and also erythritol (EU) to make sweetened flavors. There are many options for making quark at home using only milk and an acid source, such as lemon juice (EU) or buttermilk, which makes it a viable ingredient to go sweet or savory.
Labneh is a Lebanese strained or compressed firm yogurt that has reduced liquid, and is often used as a spread.
Lassi is an Indian yogurt drink. Most manufacturers in the US make lassi as a fruit-sweetened drink, but at least one makes unique sweet flavors with spices, like cardamom or cinnamon.
New Zealand Style Yogurt refers to the rotational grazing and dairy practices like those used on farms in New Zealand, rather than the unique properties of yogurt. But this type of yogurt also has a “cream top,” referring to the use of unhomogenized milk, which results in a layer of cream rising to the top of the package.
Australian Style Yogurt claims to be made using slow cooking processes rather than stabilizers and thickeners to improve the texture of the yogurt, according to one manufacturer, while another claims that the product is “double smoothed.” In the US, it can be found in both a blended and fruit-on-the bottom style, depending on the manufacturer.
As you can see, some yogurt varieties might lend themselves to savory or baked applications where notes of creaminess would enhance the flavor profile of the finished product.
On a closing note, Dairy Foods Magazine notes that the yogurt category showed a small dip in unit sales of 0.1% to $5.1 billion versus 1 year ago, showing that sales are flat, even with this diversified market. Could this trend be coming to an end, or is this the calm before the storm?
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