Gourmet yoghurts: The start of an Antipodean invasion?
The recent introduction of two Australasian gourmet yoghurts onto the UK market appears to indicate that Australia and New Zealand still seem to have something of interest to offer the generally much larger and more sophisticated European yoghurt market.
In March 2011 was the UK launch of Little Melton, based on an Australian recipe from the Queensland Yoghurt Company and already on sale in New Zealand under the Piako name and in the US as Noosa.
This is being followed by the launch of gourmet New Zealand yoghurt brand The Collective, via a joint venture company The Collective Dairy UK.
According to Innova Market Insights (www.innovadatabase.com), Australia and New Zealand accounted for just 1.6% of the global yoghurt launches recorded in the 12 months to the end of March 2011. Europe accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total, with the UK alone on over 8%. Per capita consumption of yoghurt is less than 7 kg in Australia and slightly higher in New Zealand, but this pales next to the 11kg-plus average in Western Europe, which peaks at over 22 kg in the Netherlands.
A review of product launches recorded on Innova over the past few months shows a range of yoghurt introductions in Australia and New Zealand, and reveals that the launch flavours for the Collective in the UK have been tweaked slightly from the 2010 New Zealand introductions.
Passionfruit and Rhubarb & Strawberry feature in both countries. The Natural, Mango and Black Plum variants in New Zealand give way to more complex Pomegranate & Cherry, Luscious Lemon, Apple Crumble and Russian Fudge flavours for the UK launch.
Other interesting Australasian launches in recent months have included a new presentation for Nestle Diet yoghurts in Australia with the late 2010 launch of twin packs containing A.M. and P.M variants. The options included Vanilla yoghurt for a 'Satisfying Morning Snack', paired with Apple Crumble Custard yoghurt for a 'Delicious Afternoon Snack', as well as Passionfruit for the morning, paired with Lemon Meringue for the afternoon. Probiotic yoghurt specialist Vaalia, part of Parmalat Australia, also moved away from multipacks with the launch of its Singles, marketed as delicious single-serve health snacks for busy people on the go in a range of six flavours, including Vanilla Blueberry, Luscious Berries and French Vanilla.
Back in the gourmet/indulgence arena, Bulla Dairy Foods launched its high-fruit Thick and Fruity Fruit Duos, containing 12% fruit rather than the more standard 4% to 8% level. It also combined one fruit flavour in the yoghurt and another in a fruity swirl, with five flavour combinations including Baked Apple & Rhubarb, Mango & Passionfruit, Mango & Peach, Raspberry & Blackberry and Orange & Mango.
The innovation path is not all one way, however, with Danone's Activia probiotic yoghurt a relatively recent entrant to the Australian market following its success across many of the world's major markets. The launch followed the 2010 set up of a joint venture between Danone and
Australian dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn, aiming to launch a range of Danone yoghurt and fresh dairy brands onto the Australian market from 2011 onwards. New Zealand already has a competitive product to Activia with Goodman Fielder's Activate Body Boost, which was originally launched as a dose-delivery probiotic drink, but during 2010 was also introduced in a spoonable yoghurt format offering digestive, immune and antioxidant benefits from its Bifido-defensis probiotic cultures and its boysenberry, blueberry and cranberry fruit content.
"The search for something new and different in the highly competitive yoghurt market goes on internationally," according to Innova Market Insights' Head of Research Lu Ann Williams.
"The demand for gourmet-style, indulgence products with a natural, artisan- or home-style image appears to have brought Little Melton and The Collective to the highly competitive UK yoghurt market." she contends. "But whether their Australasian provenance will be significant remains to be seen, particularly as they are actually to be made in the UK, and any success is likely to be rapidly followed by a whole range of competitors, both branded and own-label, that will all be fighting for a share of the still relatively limited gourmet market."
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