The past year had been a lackluster one for cultured products, a refrigerated dairy category that includes yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, dips and a few other novel fermented dairy foods.

Yogurt, which is about a $9 billion retail business, accounts for nearly two-thirds of retail dollar sales within the cultured dairy category, according to Circana data. It’s a department that requires retailers to have a dedicated employee restocking it throughout the day.

That’s because consumers cannot get enough yogurt. Data show that consumption of yogurt continues to grow year-after-year as more consumers learn to appreciate the value of this high-protein food that often boasts immune-boosting benefits because of probiotic culture content. Per capita annual yogurt consumption jumped from a mere 7 pounds in 2001 to 13.6 pounds in 2011 to 14.3 pounds in 2021, according to the US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.


Ongoing challenge

In 2022, many yogurt marketers were faced with supply chain issues, and it took all their efforts to keep up with orders, which is why innovation was put on the back burner. Another challenge was the pending federal revisions to yogurt’s standard of identity. The US Food and Drug Administration issued that final rule on April 13, 2023, providing formulators with more flexibility to take advantage of advancements in ingredient technology.

General Mills, Minneapolis, was one player that did not wait around for the yogurt standard to be modernized. Instead, it avoided use of the term yogurt and relied on unregulated vernacular. For example, under its :ratio Keto brand, there’s a dome-container product that contains a cultured dairy blend in the bottom and a crunchy granola mix on top. The dairy blend is made of pasteurized ultra-filtered nonfat milk, pasteurized milk, milk fat, high-oleic sunflower and/or avocado oil, and is sweetened with sucralose.

The company, which once owned Häagen-Dazs ice cream, now is licensing the brand and bringing it to the yogurt department with the debut of Häagen-Dazs Cultured Crème. The product is made from a unique blend of dairy cultures that offers a milder taste experience than the slightly sour flavor of traditional yogurt. It is also slow crafted using a fermentation process that is up to five times longer than traditional yogurt to create a thick, creamy texture reminiscent of ice cream.

Häagen-Dazs Cultured Crème yogurt new products flavors General MillsPhoto: General Mills


Penn Dairy, Winfield, Pa., recently rolled out Orontes A2A2 Mediterranean Yogurt. The cup-set yogurt comes in plain and vanilla varieties and is made from A2A2 whole milk produced by local cows that are fed grass 210 days of the year. Probiotics and prebiotic fiber (chicory root inulin) are added to boost the yogurt’s healthful halo. Lactase enzyme is added to eliminate lactose for those with lactose sensitivities or intolerances.

Icelandic Provisions, New York City, is expanding its single-serve skyr line with four new varieties. In the Extra Creamy (whole milk) category, there’s honey apricot and passion fruit mango. In the traditional low-fat milk line, there’s a berry medley containing a blend of raspberries, strawberries and cranberries with a hint of blueberry; and pineapple. The company uses authentic heirloom cultures that were used a century ago to convert milk into skyr to fuel the Vikings. The company also released a new 30-oz size of its best-selling skyr products — whole milk and low-fat plain — to encourage home cooks to boost the protein content of recipes.

Orlando-based DAH!, a company that manufactures India-inspired yogurts known as lassi, is offering probiotic-rich, 7-oz single-serve yogurt smoothies in Alphonso mango and vanilla cardamom flavors. Lassi is prepared at a lower temperature for a longer period of time — as compared to traditional yogurt — yielding a smooth and intensely flavorful product. The company gave attendees at the Natural Products Expo West show a sneak peek at its Immunity Super Boost Strawberry Lowfat Yogurt on the Go. The shelf-stable pouch product contains a microgel vitamin and mineral complex that includes immune-boosting ingredient.


Beyond yogurt

Cottage cheese has seen an uptick in sales thanks to single-serve flavorful innovations. HP Hood, Lynnfield, Mass., rolled out a category first this summer. Hood Cottage Cheese Medleys come in 5-oz dual-compartment containers, where the consumer simply flips the real fruit and crunchy mix-ins into the cottage cheese, stirs and enjoys. These convenient flavorful cottages cheeses join the brand’s single-serve 5.3-oz containers of cottage cheese with blueberries, chives, peaches, pineapple or strawberries.

Yaza Foods, Atlanta, is rolling out three varieties of labneh made using a traditional cultured dairy straining method. These spreadable, tangy dips are low in fat, contain no added sugars and are kosher. Plain is made with only pasteurized cultured milk and salt. Spicy chili and za’atar olive oil varieties start with the plain base and include clean-label seasonings.

La Terra Fina, Union City, Calif., got bold with its newest cream cheese-based dairy dips and spreads. There’s something for all tastebuds. Jalapeño hot pepper jelly provides a sweet-heat sensation, whereas caramelized onion with roasted garlic is all about umami. Pucker up your lips for the dill pickle variety or satisfy a sweet tooth with chocolate chocolate chip.

“For the last 40 years, La Terra Fina has been creating dips and spreads that transport consumers on a journey where flavor reigns supreme,” said Chhaya Bhatia, director of marketing. “Always putting flavor first, we keep our finger on the pulse of what flavor profiles consumers are gravitating towards while also remaining true to our mission of using fresh, wholesome ingredients that are always in season. From sweet-heat ingredients to new chocolate experiences and comforting throwback flavors, we’re proud to introduce delicious new products for everyone across the country to enjoy.”

Private label retailer Aldi Inc., Batavia, Ill., wants consumers to appreciate how plants, e.g., salad, taste better with dairy. The company now offers Little Salad Bar Yogurt Dressing & Dip in cilantro avocado and ranch varieties. Yogurt and real buttermilk are the dominant ingredients.


Category innovations

General Mills got creative this summer with new Go-Gurt Freeze & Reveal fat-free yogurt tubes. Sold in the refrigerated dairy department, when consumers put the tubes in the freezer, the temperature unlocks images and messages on the tubes. The yogurt comes in summer-fun flavors, such as cotton candy and orange cream.

• New Zero Sugar Drinks from Chobani, New Berlin, NY, are protein-packed, on-the-go cultured dairy beverages. They join Chobani with Zero Sugar 5.3-oz cups.

Wonder Monday, Boston, produces refrigerated, keto-friendly, gluten-free mini cheesecakes in five varieties: classic New York, chocolate, key lime pie, salted caramel and strawberry. Cream cheese is the number-one ingredient.

Hiland Dairy, Springfield, Mo., launched a new squeezable package for its all-natural sour cream. Fresh milk and cream are the main ingredients. The new package has a space-saving design with a flip-top cap that keeps the bottle upright.

top sour cream brands dairy industry Daisy private label Breakstone's Knudsen Cacique Hood LALA

Source: Circana 

|Graphic: Sosland Publishing Co. 

top cottage cheese brands dairy industry private label Daisy Breakstones Good Culture Hood Knudsen Prairie Farms

Source: Circana

|Graphic: Sosland Publishing Co. 

top cream cheese brands dairy industry soft brick whipped Philadelphia private label Tillamook Belgioioso Prairie Farms Dutch Temp Tee Einstein Bros

Source: Circana

| Graphic: Sosland Publishing Co.