“Our high protein, grass-fed yogurt at an affordable price really resonated with the buyer, as well as our commitment to health and wellness community initiatives,” said Therese Meers, an attorney who specialized in providing legal assistance to small businesses before co-founding Saga Dairy in 2015 with her husband Phil, who has a background in corporate restructuring.
She added: “Viking is a national brand in nearly 1,000 stores from California to the Carolinas, as far north as Michigan and Wisconsin and as far south as Texas and Florida.”
America’s first yogurt?
The Meers - who don’t hail from Iceland - are taking a novel approach to marketing their high-protein ‘skyr-style’ yogurts, by going back in time to present yogurt as the fuel that powered the Vikings on their epic voyages across the Atlantic, and inviting fans to ‘Unleash your inner Viking’.
The packaging - which playfully describes the product as “America’s first yogurt!” – adds: “The Viking Sagas tell the story of how they first brought Viking yogurt to America… 1,000 years later, it finally returns…”
People really like the fact that we’re a family-owned business
However, the fact that Saga Dairy (which is based out of Boston and Chicago and manufactures its products in upstate New York) is a family-run business producing a high-quality product is more important to retail buyers and consumers than whether the founders are Icelandic, Therese Meers told FoodNavigator-USA after the launch.
“People really like the fact that we’re a family owned business and they want to support what we’re trying to do, which is make high protein, lower sugar yogurt more accessible, something you can eat daily, not a treat [each 6oz pot has 16-19g protein and 5-14g sugar; the pure variety has 5g sugar – all from the milk - and 19 g protein].
“But they also really like the taste and the texture. We spent a long time working with experts at the University of Illinois to understand the cultures to use and get the recipe exactly right.”
The flavors include Pure, Vanilla, Coconut Creme (with coconut ream and shredded coconut), Strawberry, Blueberry, and Cucumber Mint.
We don’t need to add as much sugar
Meers added: “Because we’re taking out more of the whey [Viking Icelandic Yogurt is strained for longer than Greek yogurt, so requires four cups of milk to make one cup of yogurt vs three for Greek yogurt, she says], we don’t need to add as much sugar.”
As for the flavors, while cucumber mint might sound a little off the wall, it’s one of the things that impressed buyers about the brand, which is “bringing something new and unique” to the category, she added.
Consumers also like the fact that Viking comes in 6oz cups (many other players in the category have reduced their cup sizes to 5.3oz), but still retails at a lower price ($1.59 or $1.25 on sale), she said. “Not everyone can afford to spend $2-3 on a cup of yogurt. We want to bring Icelandic yogurt to the mainstream, to make it something you can afford to eat every day.”
Read more about Saga Dairy HERE.