Danone's getting serious about low-sugar yogurt

Posted January 14, 2019 8:24 a.m. EST

— Danone company has spent more than a year perfecting Two Good, a new Greek yogurt from the company's Light & Fit line. Danone is so convinced that its new product will give it an edge with increasingly sugar-conscious consumers that it's patenting the process needed to make Two Good.

Most Greek yogurt is just strained regular yogurt. The straining process makes the yogurt creamier, richer in protein, and helps remove some of the dairy sugar.

Two Good yogurt is made out of strained liquid yogurt — the kind you can drink. Starting with liquid instead of regular lengthens the process significantly, but removes more sugar. The new strained yogurt has just two grams of sugar in each 5.3 ounce, 80-calorie cup. That's much less sugar than in other flavored low-sugar yogurts. Siggi's Icelandic yogurts have 8 to 11 grams of sugar, and Chobani's Less-Sugar Greek yogurt line has an average of 9 grams of sugar per cup.

The new product is "revolutionary in the category," said Prabha Cheemalapati, vice president of yogurt marketing for Danone North America, adding that the slow straining process is a "breakthrough."

To promote the yogurt, which is already on shelves, Danone is rolling out a national multi-platform advertising campaign. "This is our biggest innovation priority" for the first half of 2019, Cheemalapati said.

Yogurt companies are promising more protein and less sugar as consumer preferences change. In 2017, 11.9% of yogurt product launches promised low, no or reduced sugar and 13.6% promised high or added protein, according to the market research company Mintel. In the first eight months of 2018, those figures spiked to 21.5% and 30.4%, respectively.

"The consumer is clearly evolving," said Danone North America CEO Mariano Lozano. "On one side, they are looking for healthy snacks with less sugar."

Lozano pointed out several growth areas in yogurt. He said consumers want low-sugar and low-calorie yogurts, but they also want probiotics, kids' yogurts, indulgent flavors and plant-based yogurt alternatives.

But the market is fragmented, and Danone plans to offer consumers all the different products they want across yogurt categories, and compete with Activia, Danimals, Oikos Oh! double cream yogurt and Silk, So Delicious and Vega vegan products.

It also plans to grow its non-yogurt offerings, which include coffee creamers, milk and plant-based milks, by acquiring promising brands.