Luxury meets health in the yoghurts aisle

It's been a good year for yoghurt. New formats, designs and products have been welcomed by consumers, so much so that yoghurt is now eaten at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and at home, work and school.

The total category for yoghurt and pot desserts grew 7.7% in the past year to £1.9bn, with premium pud Gü entering the top 20 for the first time. And although much of the growth was driven by food price inflation, volumes were up by 1%.

Natural and Greek yoghurt have been key features of this market, while Ski continues its downhill run, as health has become the watchword, according to Waitrose yoghurts and chilled desserts buyer Amanda Scott.

"Active health and functional yoghurts continue to dominate sector growth, with little evidence of slowdown," she says.

Danone's Activia brand is the best example of this, increasing 37.5% in value to £161.7m in the past year.

Top Launch - Activa Intensely Creamy (Danone) 
Danone set out to give its bloat-busting yoghurt the luxury treatment, launching the Activia Intensely Creamy range in September. Like other Activia yoghurts it contains bacteria said to help digestion, but this is an after-dinner dessert, and despite being less than 3% fat, the four flavours, Sumptuously Strawberry, Luscious Cherry, Zesty Lemon and Peaches & Cream flavours - taste great.
"Brands such as Activia have really pushed home to customers a message that is understood," says Scott. And it's using this as a platform to bring a bit of luxury to functional yoghurts, launching Activia Intensely Creamy in September.

Rachel's Organic also added a range of luxury desserts under its Divine banner. The three-strong Divine Desserts yoghurts range joins Divine Rice Puddings on shelf and comes in milk chocolate, orange and toffee flavours.

Müller continues to dominate the table, however, with four brands in the top 10. Müllerlight was relaunched in January to shift the perception of it being purely a diet product and it appears to have paid off. Investing £4.4m to promote its fruit and calcium content, Müllerlight recorded a 14.7% sales increase to £124.2m this year compared with a 6% drop last year.

Also showing strongly is Onken, up 40.6% to £46.6m in sales. Dr Oetker revamped its yoghurt brand in August to highlight its health credentials. Adding calorie indicators and GDA breakdowns to the new-look pots, a new wave of marketing is planned early next year to further support the range. And continuing its form from last year is Petit Filous, which grew sales by £21.4m.

Alpro launched a low-calorie soya range in January, as part of its attempt to push the dairy-free brand to a wider health-conscious market. The product has recorded sales growth of 10.2% to £14.8m in the past year, with the chocolate variant very popular in this office.
View The Grocer's definitive Top Products 2008 survey