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Protein claims taking over from 'probiotic' in yoghurt?

05 December, 2013

Less than three per cent of global food and drinks launches in the 12 months to the end of September were marketed on a high-protein or source-of-protein positioning, according to Innova Market Insights.

Looking at recent new product activity in yoghurt, however, data indicates that over ten per cent of launches globally used protein claims, although this was skewed by the USA, where over one-third of introductions were marketed using this positioning. This figure falls to just over six per cent in Western Europe, where it is only the UK that is really showing the beginning of a similar trend to that in the USA.

"The rise of Greek and Greek-style strained yoghurts, which are inherently higher in protein than standard lines, has paved the way for the positioning of yoghurts on a high-protein platform," according to Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights.

"Although most of these are also 'probiotic,' once also a key marketing positioning, problems over health claims in this area have caused companies to divert attention away from digestive health in many instances; often toward nutrient content. This has tended to lead to a focus on the higher protein content of Greek-style products, alongside the traditional focus on their creamy and indulgent image," she adds.

In the USA, where the booming interest in Greek and Greek-style yoghurts was first apparent, there has been increasing focus on the higher protein content of this kind of product. A new so-called "brogurt" sub-category has started to appear in the wake of this, with an increasing number of launches appealing more specifically to men, particularly those interested in fitness. Powerful Yogurt in the USA claimed to have introduced the first Greek yoghurt for men in March 2013, featuring a larger "man-sized" 8-ounce cup and 25g of natural protein per pot.

There is also rising activity in emphasising the protein content of non-Greek-style yoghurts. A softer approach to claims in the EU in the wake of the health claims legislation has resulted in rising interest in products offering a more general health and well-being image, and this can also include a focus on protein content as one of a range of benefits. An early entrant in this area of the market is Emmi, which launched its Good Day range in Switzerland in mid-2013, encompassing reduced-fat, high-protein and lactose-free yoghurt, yoghurt drinks and milk.

Other developments include the launch of frozen yoghurt options with a high-protein positioning, such as ProYo in the USA, and other strained (but not Greek or Greek-style) high-protein yoghurt options. These include Smari Icelandic yoghurt brand, which was launched in the USA in mid-2013 and a new Protein variant of General Mills' Yoplait Go Gurt children's hand-held yoghurt brand; offering twice the protein of the standard range.

"With high-protein foods one of the most sought-after nutritional choices at the moment, and the need for strained yoghurt to find new ways of promoting itself in the wake of difficulties over the 'Greek' descriptor in some instances, the high-protein yoghurt market seems ripe for further development," Williams concludes.

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