Yogurt makers cut sugar but add fat and convenience to meet consumer demands

Source: iStock

Yogurt manufacturers continue to expand and evolve their portfolios with healthier and more convenient options that meet consumers’ growing demand for products that are lower in sugar, high in flavor and easy to eat. 

On a mission to “continually provide healthier food both for our consumers and the planet,” organic yogurt maker Stonyfield unveiled Feb. 13 a comprehensive plan to reduce sugar across its portfolio, starting with products marketed to children and moving into other varieties over the course of 2017.

“While consumers want less sugar in their products, they don’t want the taste to change,” which can pose a significant challenge from a formulation perspective, Lisa hammer, product development manager at Stonyfield, told FoodNavigator-USA.

However, she said, Stonyfield was up to the task and worked for more than two years to balance these potentially conflicting consumer demands.

“With our proprietary library of culture strains, we worked to achieve a formula to reduce tartness and balance the sweetness of yogurt, allowing for sugar reduction without sacrificing taste,” she said.

With this formulation, the company plans to remove added sugar from its YoBaby line, beyond the existing plain unsweetened formula, by the end of fall 2017. This will build on its existing offering of YoKids yogurt that already features at least 40% less sugar than leading lowfat children’s yogurt, according to the company.

The company also plans to cut at least 25% of sugar from its Smooth & Creamy varieties in cups and quarts and lowfat Smoothies, which are in addition to the existing plain, unsweetened options also already available in its Greek and core lines.

These changes should help the company reach its goal of purchasing 25% less sugar this year, the manufacturer adds.

From reduced sugar to high fat

The changes will bring Stonyfield products closer in line with the sugar levels of those offered by competitor siggi’s, which was created 10 years ago in part to bring consumers yogurt made with simple ingredients and “not a lot of sugar.”

“Today more than ever, consumers are more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies. Many people in the United States are consuming over the recommended sugar intake, and a lot of them are not even aware of it, falling victim to hidden sources of sugar in their everyday diets,” Siggi Hilmarsson, founder of siggi’s, told FoodNavigator-USA.

With this in mind, he noted, “there is definitely a trend away from added sugar, and siggi’s is proud to have been at the forefront of this trend” with products that have at least 25% less sugar than the leading brands’ flavored yogurts.

At the same time that sugar is out for many consumers, fat is back, and siggi’s also is out front of this trend with the Feb. 13 launch of a decadent triple cream yogurt made with 9 percent milk fat and triple the cream.

The inspiration for the new product came from a favorite snack that Hilmarsson said his mother made him growing up that combined plain skyr with rich, creamy whipped cream and fruit.

The 4-ounce cups will be available in raspberry, vanilla and lemon. 

This launch follows last month’s launch of whole-milk drinkable yogurts that give consumers a convenient way to consume 8 grams of protein and 10 billion probiotic cultures per serving.

“Knowing consumers are always looking for a healthy snack when they are on the go, it was a natural move for us to provide consumers with a single-serve, convenient and nourishing choice,” he said.

Made with only five ingredients, the drinkable yogurts are “satisfyingly creamy” and available in vanilla, strawberry and blueberry, he said. 

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