If you’re into yogurt these days, chances are good you’re into Greek yogurt. Once considered food for the sandal-wearing granola naturalist types, Greek yogurt has exploded in popularity.
Nicki Briggs, a representative of Chobani, a major Greek yogurt producer in the U.S., told Christine Fisher of phillynews.com that Chobani experienced 450 percent growth last year with the Greek-style stuff. Chicago-based market research firm IRI reports that Greek yogurt sales doubled in 2009, capturing 10 percent of the overall yogurt market.
â€˜Greek is chic right now,â€™ said Peggy Stang, Yoplait marketing manager.
What’s unique about Greek yogurt? The excess liquid is strained out of it, giving it a thick, creamy texture and concentrated health benefits. Authentic Greek yogurt has twice the protein of regular yogurt because when when the excess milk is strained out, solid whey protein remains. Greek yogurt has long been part of the famous Mediterranean diet.
According to Fisher’s story, Chobani and competitor Stonyfield began producing Greek yogurt about three years ago. Major Greek yogurt producer Fage built its first U.S. plant in 2008. Now, yogurt giants Yoplait and Dannon have joined in the fun, rolling out their own lines of Greek yogurt this year.
Stonyfield’s Sarah Badger says Greek yogurt’s popularity comes from its health benefits, its tart taste, thickness, and its versatility in cooking. Greek yogurt also wins out over regular yogurt in terms of probiotics, which can help convert lactose to lactic acid, making the product easier to digest for people with lactose intolerance.
The thicker consistency of Greek yogurt makes it more palatable to some, especially for those who don’t care for regular yogurt’s runny consistency. Like traditional yogurt, the latest Greek varieties often contain fruit, and Stonyfield’s Oikos brand recently introduced caramel and chocolate flavors.
Fage’s top seller is the plain variety, which people are using in all types of savory recipes, including dips and marinades.
The Greek economy may still be in some distress, but Greek yogurt is trending up—way up.
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