The yogurtOpens a New Window. boom could be coming to a halt as sales slip after years of explosive growth, with too many options and a fear of sugar likely driving the decline.
According to the Wall Street JournalOpens a New Window., new Nielsen data found that overall yogurt sales fell 6 percent by volume in the year through February with Greek yogurt, which fueled the category’s growth for years, falling 11 percent during that same period.
The report blamed the uptick in yogurt varieties for overwhelming customers. According to marketing firm Acosta, the average U.S. supermarket carries more than 300 different yogurt options.
Mary Ledman, global dairy strategist with Rabobank agrees that the plethora of choices are causing confusion in store aisles but adds that despite yogurt sales trending lower since 2015, there are some bright spots.
“Kefir and yogurt fruit smoothies are posting positive gains,” Ledman told FOX Business.
But she admits that the high protein yogurt category is facing greater competition as consumers “are switching-up their protein consumption opting for high-protein ice cream and innovative cottage cheeses.”
However, Matt Gould, editor at Dairy and Food Market Analyst doesn’t buy the “too many options” reports and instead blames customers fear of sugar for the declines.
“Sugar—and consumers’ increasing desire to avoid it—has been one of the biggest issues slowing growth in yogurt,” Gould said.
While healthy cottage cheese startup Good Culture CEO Jesse Merrill cites the uptick in additional dairy and dairy alternative products made with almond and coconut milk as part of the issue.
Stonyfield chairman and former CEO Gary Hirshberg added that while adult sales have slowed, the kids yogurt segment is taking off, especially in the organic sector.
Still, Gould added that while yogurt may have reached its peak, the fact that retailers are still devoting large amount of shelf space for the products is actually a testament that they believe yogurt manufacturers will stay relevant in the future.