New research indicates that yoghurt is moving away from an American breakfast table staple to become a core component of the lunchtime market.

Research from Mintel shows that 71% of those eating yoghurt do so at lunch, in comparison to 62% who do so at breakfast time. Yoghurt has moved away from the perception of being only a breakfast food, and is also moving away from being seen strictly as a health or diet food for women. Almost three quarters of women eat yoghurt, compared to 54% of men, and it has become an anytime snack or meal replacement for both kids and adults. In addition, dessert yoghurt is one of the fastest growing products that provide an option for those who seek indulgence.

Over two-thirds of all Americans eat yoghurt. This is a substantial gain from the Mintel survey of April 2003, when 57% said that they buy yoghurt. The increasing market penetration in such a short time is likely due to reaching new consumers through low carb and dessert-style yoghurt. The market has plenty of potential to continue growing through adding new consumers, given 32% of consumers do not eat yoghurt. Also, the industry has many tools with which to continue innovation, such as sweeteners, nutraceutical ingredients, and marketing the benefits of bacteria (probiotics), which is a subject that Americans are increasingly willing to listen to.

There are a few major drivers in the yoghurt market, the foremost being increased attention by adults and on behalf of children regarding health, nutrition, and diet. The strongest impact on yoghurt products is from the trend towards wellness and overall health, something that even consumers who are not on a diet are striving for. Secondly, rising obesity rates among adults and children have caused enough alarm to mobilise the government to act to raise awareness of both obesity and diabetes. Both trends drove the yoghurt market higher throughout 1998 to 2003. Due to this, sales of light yoghurt products grew 84% between 1998 and 2003. The big jump in 2001 came from Dannon Light ‘n Fit, which was introduced at the end of 2000 and reached sales of US$192m in 2001. Yoplait Light added $22m in growth to the segment that year. Danone accounted for the remainder of the market growth, with other players breaking even.

Total yoghurt sales in the US reached almost $2.8bn in 2003, up 7.8% from 2002. This healthy growth rate is expected to continue, given Americans’ rising attention to health and wellness, as well as their desire for portable and nutritious snacks. Mintel predicts that total US sales of yoghurt will increase by 48% from 2003 to 2008 to reach $4.1bn. The market will expand well above the rate of inflation as the category capitalises on its health attributes and convenience, as well as the indulgence of dessert yoghurt.