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Yoghurt sales are curdling. Despite a focus on natural, health-led products, consumption has continued to fall.

In fact, the decline stepped up a notch in 2019. Yoghurts fell by a staggering £50.6m in grocery, equating to 193.1 million fewer units.

Not even the traditionally robust own-label sector managed to escape the decline this time around. Although volumes were more or less flat, value dropped 2.7% or £14.8m. That was driven by significant promotional activity across the mults, which helped push down average prices by 2.6%.

However, brands fared the worst. Their value fell by £35.8m, or 2.5%, and volumes collapsed by 5.6%.

There are a couple of trends driving this slump, says Arla’s senior director for milk & yoghurts Danny Micklethwaite. First, yoghurts have suffered from a change in consumer habits, with a sharp drop in consumption during the evening meal dessert – the category’s largest occasion.

“The second trend is the health perception of yoghurts,” he adds. “As more people move away from diet-focused products such as fat-free, consumers are switching to more natural products or leaving the category.”

Some brands have benefited from that shift. The Collective, for example, is up £4.2m thanks to ongoing distribution wins.

But others are suffering from the move away from diet lines. And none more so than former market leader Müller Light. It slipped £29.7m – 18% of its value – and fell to third place. That makes it the second fastest falling brand in this entire report.

The slump comes despite a 1.8% fall in average price. Promotions of the brand are “no longer hitting the mark” suggests Nielsen analyst Kate Goodman.

Müller head of category Carol Hand admits “yoghurt has its challenges”, but she stresses Müller Light is “exploring ways to grow the brand and drive category growth”. Indeed, it relaunched with a new recipe in May and rolled out a glut of innovation over the year.

Müller Light isn’t the only one struggling. Danone’s Activia shed £7.5m following a loss of distribution, says Nielsen’s Goodman. The brand hopes to recoup some of that with the UK launch of a plant-based range next year.

Elsewhere, kids’ brands Petits Filous and Frubes suffered value drops of 13.8% and 10.4% respectively due to the “often-misjudged perception of [their high] sugar content” claims Yoplait Kids senior brand manager Elisa Costa.

Arla’s Micklethwaite agrees yoghurts are facing challenges to their “health halo”, especially in kids lines. It is looking to battle that perception with the September launch of Arla Explorers, which promises at least 30% less sugar than other kids’ yoghurts.


The Top Products

 In association with nielsen

Top 20 Yoghurts & potted desserts     
        £m change (£m) change (%)
      Total Category: 1939.9 -50.6 -2.5
Total volume change: -4.3%   Total Own Label: 533.3 -14.8 -2.7
This year’s rank Last year’s rank Brand Manufacturer £m change (£m) change (%)
1 2 Muller Corner Muller 147.9 -0.4 -0.3
2 3 Activia Danone 134.5 -7.5 -5.3
3 1 Mullerlight Muller 132.6 -29.7 -18.3
4 4 Yeo Valley Yeo Valley Farms 108.0 1.9 1.8
5 6 Fage Total Fage 59.0 0.6 1.1
6 5 Onken Emmi 58.4 -0.8 -1.4
7 7 Cadbury Muller 55.7 -0.3 -0.5
8 10 Gu Gu 47.7 4.6 10.7
9 9 Alpro Alpro 44.1 0.6 1.3
10 8 Petits Filous Yoplait 43.0 -6.9 -13.8
11 11 Mullerice Muller 38.5 -0.2 -0.5
12 13 Arla Arla Foods 36.0 0.1 0.3
13 15 The Collective Great Dairy The Collective Great Dairy 35.5 4.2 13.3
14 12 Munch Bunch Nestle 33.1 -3.3 -8.9
15 14 Light & Free Danone 32.4 0.7 2.1
16 18 Oykos Danone 29.2 3.2 12.5
17 16 Yoplait Wildlife Yoplait 28.6 0.4 1.4
18 17 Rachels Organic Nestle 21.2 -4.9 -18.9
19 19 Frubes Yoplait 20.6 -2.4 -10.4
20 23 Nomadic Nomadic 20.5 3.5 20.8

The Grocer’s Top Launch

Alpro Greek Style StrawberryRaspberry

Alpro Greek Style by Alpro

Alpro heralded 2019 as its “biggest ever” year for NPD and marketing, so it’s no surprise the plant-based behemoth grew its yoghurt alternatives by tapping the Greek trend. The soya-based range is available in a 400g plain variant and a 150g pot across strawberry & raspberry, passion fruit, blueberry and mango. Backed by a multimillion-pound push that saw one million samples given away, the range was most recently bolstered by a granola-based variant.

The Grocer’s Top Products 2019: Brand on the run?