In 2020, Yogurt Does Grow on Trees

The past few years have seen tremendous growth for non-dairy milks and other plant-based alternative foods. According to a recent study by The Hartman Group, 43% of consumers have purchased a plant-based milk. However, this newfound love has not yet fully extended into related dairy categories; according to that same study, just 12% of consumers have purchased a non-dairy yogurt or cheese.

Despite comparably lukewarm early numbers, manufacturers are betting big on category growth. Major players in yogurt – such as Chobani and Yoplait – have introduced plant-based yogurts made with coconut milk, while heavyweights in the almond, soy, and oat milk space – including Silk and Almond Breeze – have debuted their own lines of yogurt as well.

Replicating the creamy texture, thickness, and tanginess of “real” yogurt has historically been a major challenge for manufacturers. There have been significant advancements in alternative dairy production, as well as conveniently skewed consumer expectations, as shoppers have come to embrace the flavor of vegan milks despite their variance from that of cow’s milk. Together, these factors have produced a consumer climate that appears favorable to a major trend in plant-based yogurts.

Plant-based cheeses have also famously had a difficult time taking off. It has taken producers years to develop a product that will provide a satisfactory melt, and recreating the unique textures of various cheeses has been a challenge. Besides the mouthfeel factor, the flavor reputation of plant-based dairy (nut milks in particular) have not been especially helpful. With many consumers regularly buying dairy-free milks that are flavored with honey, vanilla, chocolate, etc., the perception of dairy alternatives has been that they are better suited to sweet meals.

With yogurt facing far fewer of these types of pitfalls, it’s entirely possible that it will receive greater support than what cheese brands have experienced. After all, bases like coconut milk and almond milk are already relatively easy for consumers to imagine pairing with fruit, adding a dessert-like quality to a category that is, in many ways, healthier than their dairy counterparts.

We have called out this trend on Instagram, where we are running a new series called #TrendTuesday. Follow Works Design Group’s account for weekly insights for a variety of categories from across the grocery store.


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