Yoplait launches three premium yoghurts in China

Yoplait launches three premium yoghurts in China

General Mills today (8 June) announced the launch of the Yoplait yoghurt brand in China.

The move is the "largest expansion" of Yoplait since General Mills took a 51% controlling interest in the business in 2011, the US food group said.

"Our entry into China with Yoplait is a major milestone in General Mills' history," Ken Powell, General Mills' chairman and CEO, said.

"We're excited about the prospects for growth across our global yoghurt business. Yoghurt has been one of the hottest food categories in the world over the past decade. We like our positions in key developed markets, and we see plenty of room for future growth as category consumption continues to develop in emerging yoghurt markets."

General Mills cited data from Euromonitor International, which it claimed said yoghurt sales are worth US$10bn in China and growing at a "double-digit pace".

The company said three lines will be rolling out in hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience channels in Shanghai. With the initial launch focused on Shanghai, General Mills said it will take a city-by-city approach to expansion as it grows the brand's geographic reach.

"With the tremendous economic growth in China, consumers are increasingly demanding better quality and experience of foods," said Gary Chu, senior vice president and president of General Mills's business in Greater China. "Chinese consumers like the health benefits of yoghurt and we are thrilled to add our world-class Yoplait products to our growing portfolio of brands and products that Chinese consumers have come to love and trust."

General Mills said the launch was a "significant step" for its Chinese unit, which has grown at a CAGR of 15% over the last four years.

The new products include: Perle de lait - a "thick and creamy French-style yoghurt" - Panier de fruits - the first "fruit on the bottom yoghurt in the category" - and O'Fruit, a drinkable yoghurt with big fruit pieces that requires an extra-large straw to drink.

General Mills acquired a 51% stake in French yoghurt business Yoplait in 2011 after a deal with the company's owners, the French dairy co-op Sodiaal and private-equity group PAI Partners. Sodiaal continues to owns the rest of the business.

Has Yoplait adopted the best expansion strategy in China? Click here for just-food's analysis.