Top launch: Skyr - Arla

Can Icelandic-style yoghurt be as big a success as Greek-style yoghurt? Arla certainly hopes so. It threw its corporate might behind a major push for its ‘masterbrand’ in the UK this year, backed by NPD that included Arla Skyr - the first Icelandic-style Skyr yoghurt to be sold in UK supermarkets. The on-trend ‘super yoghurt’ is high in protein, low in fat and contains less sugar than standard yoghurts, and was supported by a suitably Nordic-themed TV ad.

The backlash against sugar continues to bite in yoghurts & pot desserts, down 0.9% in value and 1% in volume over the past year.

Own label has contributed more than two thirds of the sector’s £18.2m losses as average prices inched up and those of key brands such as Müllerlight and Onken fell. That both brands are in significant growth suggests increasing price sensitivity in the market.

Activia has been the biggest casualty of the year, losing an eyewatering £30.1m from its retail value. “The total yoghurt category has faced a tough year, and Activia’s sales have reflected that climate,” concedes Danone Dairy head of marketing Bryan Martins.

Its average price might have inched up 1.3% in the past year, but current market trends suggest greater challenges than mere price have affected Activia. Health-focused yoghurts in single-serve pots are losing sales as sugar comes under closer scrutiny; big pots and natural yoghurt are in growth.

“Customers are increasingly concerned with food safety and nutrition, and are favouring brands they intuitively trust,” suggests Yeo Valley marketing director Dan Rusga. Some 40% of Yeo Valley sales now come from natural yoghurt, he says, which is a “sure sign more and more of us are choosing simpler foods with no added sugar”.

Market leader Müller Corner has also suffered from this trend, losing £16.1m as shoppers have steered away from the brand’s more indulgent offerings. By contrast, the shift towards more natural yoghurts has benefited Emmi’s Onken and Yoplait’s Liberté brands, which have seen growth worth £3.2m and £4.2m respectively.

One of the big successes of the year was The Collective, which has put an extra £5m through the tills and entered Nielsen’s top 20 brands for the first time. Again, changing attitudes to sugar have played a part, with the brand announcing in January that it was cutting sugar across its range by 15%. The brand also says its big pot unsweetened Straight Up was a key contributor to growth.

“With sugar being high on the health agenda and a growing desire for natural products with clean ingredients, we’re finding people are choosing products like Straight Up,” says director Amelia Harvey.

Another brand on the periphery of the top 20 to make gains is Lancashire Farm Dairies, which has seen value grow by almost £1m to £9.2m on the back of a shift towards healthier and more natural yoghurt options. “We are committed to developing low-sugar and no-sugar products,” says MD Azhar Zouq. “Throughout 2015, we have seen more and more consumers turn their backs on the luxury yoghurt category.”

With the sugar debate gathering pace, expect this trend to continue in 2016.

TOP 20 Yoghurts & potted dessertsSALES
        £m change (£m) change (%)
Total volume change: –1.0% Total Category 1,999.70 –18.2 –0.9
      Total Own Label 549.20 –13.3 –2.4
1 1 Müller Corner Müller 203.90 –16.1 –7.3
2 2 Danone Activia Danone 171.6 –30.1 –14.9
3 3 Müllerlight Müller 171.4 11 6.8
4 4 Yeo Valley Yeo Valley Organic 99.30 10.4 11.7
5 5 Petits Filous Yoplait 87.60 –0.5 –0.5
6 6 Onken Emmi 62.2 3.2 5.4
7 7 Cadbury Müller 55.70 0.2 0.3
8 13 Total Fage 49.7 10.3 26.2
9 8 Müller Rice Müller 44.10 0.1 0.1
10 9 Yoplait Wildlife Yoplait 38.3 –4.4 –10.4
11 12 Munch Bunch Nestlé 37.9 –2.7 –6.7
12 11 WeightWatchers Yoplait 36.5 –4.7 –11.4
13 10 Rachel’s Organic Nestlé 36.3 –5.8 –13.8
14 14 29.6 1.3 4.7
15 15 Alpro Alpro 21.9 4.1 22.9
16 18 Danone Oykos Danone 19.2 2.9 17.6
17 17 Aero Nestlé 17.5 0.5 2.7
18 26 The Collective The Collective 14.5 5 52.1
19 20 Rolo Nestlé 14.3 1.3 10.2
20 23 Liberté Yoplait 14.2 4.2 42.2

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