Greek style yogurt is gaining favor among consumers that has resulted in dramatic sales increases. Sales have grown 100% each of the past three years with Greek yogurt now representing 19% of all yogurt sales in the United States according to Business Insider.
Consumers are attracted to Greek yogurt for the rich, thick texture and the extra protein that it provides. It has twice as much protein as regular yogurt due to the process used to make it.
All yogurts are made by heating milk and cooling slightly and then adding active cultures and allowing the mixture to ferment until set. With Greek style yogurt, the mixture is strained to remove the whey which results in a concentrated, thick and creamy mixture that will stand up on a spoon. Whey is the liquid portion remaining after milk is cultured; it contains several nutrients including whey protein. Most Greek style yogurt processing separates and removes only the liquid portion of the whey, leaving the whey protein intact in the yogurt.
It requires more milk to make Greek yogurt which is a plus for dairy farmers. Most Greek yogurt is made from non-fat milk so there is no fat in the product despite its lush texture.
Even though the average price of Greek yogurt is 121% higher than regular yogurt it has attracted the attention of consumers. Certainly the extra protein is a selling feature but there are also other perceived benefits. Consumers are looking for more natural and authentic food products and Greek style yogurt fits that image. The traditional yogurt market offers a myriad of flavors many with artificial flavorings and colors and a gelatinous texture that is losing appeal to consumers who are looking for more wholesome options.
Local dairy producers and processors may want to capitalize on this growing trend by creating locally made Greek style yogurt. A locally produced Greek yogurt could have the added benefit of also appealing to the consumer desire for local foods. Producers who are interested in created value added products like this may request assistance from the MSU Product Center.
Source: Brenda Reau, Michigan State University Extension and the MSU Product Center