The yoghurt category has seen huge growth over the past year as a marketing push coupled with growing demand for healthier snacks brought new consumers to the fixture.

Sales value has risen 10.4% to a record £1.2bn over the past year, with volume growth up 8% to 3.6 billion kg [TNS 52 w/e 4 October]. Some 800,000 more people ate yoghurt this year.

Own-label and branded products have done well, with sales of Müller Fruit Corner, for example, up 11% over the year to £92.5m and Danone's Activia Intensely Creamy becoming a £30m brand since launch in September 2008.

"There are a number of different dynamics contributing to the good growth levels," said Müller marketing and R&D director Chris McDonough. "Much of this is being driven by a combination of high levels of marketing spend by key players, and by consumers pursuing a healthier, more balanced diet."

Health remains the key driver of consumption, with half of all yoghurts eaten for that reason, according to TNS analyst Eddy Coates. Consumption for health reasons has risen 7% over the past year.

Some eight out of every 10 yoghurt occasions take place between Monday and Friday, a further indication of its importance as a healthy snack. The category has also benefited from the growth in consumption of desserts. "We targeted the evening meal occasion, which was an underdeveloped part of the market, with Intensely Creamy," said Bryan Martins, customer development controller at Danone.

"The great thing is there is still huge potential for consumption growth in ­yoghurts."

Müller has spent £30m in support for its brands this year in a bid to bring new and lapsed users into the category and increase per capita consumption. Danone, Onken and others have also launched major campaigns. Yoghurt and fromage frais's £46.3m ad spend in 2008/09 was slightly down on last year, but still made up 40% of total dairy spend [Nielsen].