For manufacturers of yogurt and fermented milk products it’s been an interesting year. Sales have increased despite the obvious challenges of a global pandemic, with the global yogurt market expected to exceed €100 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 3.4% from 2020.1 But as the world works slowly on a return to normality, how has Covid-19 influenced key trends – and how might it to continue to do so in future?
Here at DSM, we recently launched our revamped Portfolio for Fermented Milk Products – a one-stop shop for manufacturers covering everything from dairy cultures to fortification solutions to lactose-free options. With so many of our customers searching for a competitive advantage in a fast-changing industry landscape, we’ve been digging into the trends – and come up with some interesting (fermented) food for thought... Not surprisingly, given this rapid market growth and the increasingly competitive category, lactose-free dairy producers are working hard to stand out. This fast-changing market is creating new opportunities for dairy manufacturers to differentiate based on health and on sustainability packaging claims, but is also driving the need for more efficient production and increased capacity.
Over the past year or so, almost everyone has been eating more at home. Yogurt was already gaining in popularity as portable and healthy ‘snack. Now, it’s fast becoming a prime candidate for healthy snacking between meals. In its State of Snacking 20202 report, Mondelez international said that 9 in 10 consumers had indulged in more snacks during Covid than before. Even when restrictions have fully lifted around the world…the chances are that consumers will continue to eat more at home than they did pre-covid – including yogurt.
The health benefits of fermented milk products are long-established; but there remains enormous untapped potential to pack even more nutrition into yogurts – and meet the growing consumer desire for immunity-boosting nutrients like vitamin D. Recent DSM panel research revealed that 45.4% of consumers are choosing yogurt fortified with added nutrition. Also recent research by FMCG Gurus shows that consumers consider probiotics to be a booster to the immune system1.
The researchers also found that consumers are turning more to food that boosts the immune system, and seeking out fortified/functional food and drinks with added health-enhancing ingredients such as probiotics, protein and vitamins. While added nutrients alone are not proven to fight diseases like Covid-19, it’s clear from a consumer perspective that every little helps - especially as many of us become more aware of the need for good health and wellbeing.
During the pandemic, many millions of people have been more sedentary, with more than a third of global consumers stating that they had become more conscious of their weight due to Covid-19. In fact, some 71% of consumers are expecting to reduce their sugar intake in the next 3-5 years3 and are demanding more from products that are marketed as ‘healthy’.4 Yogurt is an ideal product to meet this need.
For example, lactose-free options are increasingly perceived as healthier than regular dairy5 — particularly those with additional nutritional benefits or claims. And with lactases you not only create lactose-free yogurt also the natural sweetness is unlocked and the amount of added sugar can be reduced.
While consumers increasingly seek healthier options, we also see the continued growth in demand for thicker, more indulgent fermented milk products. Comfort eating has skyrocketed during covid among stressed-out consumers. The key of course is delivering the ‘treat’ they desire, while maintaining the health benefits of the product. Just one way for manufacturers to deliver on this - and achieve differentiation through premiumization - is via dairy cultures that enable the creation of low-sugar/fat or protein-rich yogurt varieties, with an indulgent, creamy texture and great taste.
The events of the past year have given many consumers time to think hard about the kind of world they want to live in; and the stresses being exerted on our planet. For instance, a recent survey by DSM found that 71% of respondents check product labels, with 66% committed to buying goods made with ingredients they are familiar with.6 The drive towards products with cleaner labels and more natural ingredients is picking up pace.
Also some 30% of consumers have said that they will drink more plant-based milk due to Covid – a lucrative opportunity for those who get it right.
On the other hand, food waste is becoming more of a concern for consumers and food manufacturers. Spoilage is one of the main causes of food waste. Protective cultures are key in helping dairy manufacturers add to their own bottom line by avoiding spoilage throughout shelf life, extending shelf life, while meeting consumer needs for more natural products.
For some time now, the trends in fermented milk products have pointed to a generation looking for products that deliver the ultimate in convenience, health benefits (to both people and planet) and (of course) a delightful eating experience. Covid-19 has merely accentuated and accelerated these trends.
If you’d like to know about how our Portfolio for Fermented Milk Products addresses these key needs (and more), we urge you to check it out.
26 July 2021