|Title:||United Kingdom yogurt and pot dessert take-home sales in pounds sterling, kilograms, and percent change for year ending January 22, 2012|
Start of full article - but without data
Yoghurts & pot desserts: XX w/e XX January 2012
[pounds y-o-y % kg (m) y-o-y % sterling] m
Yoghurt X,XXX X.X XXX.X X.X
Pot desserts XXX X.X XXX.X X.X
Fromage frail XXX -X.X XX.X -X.X
Total X,XXX X.X XXX.X X.X
Muller won't be the only brand ruing the arrival of supermarket `venture' brands such as Yoo.
In theory, the sales figures spell good news for the yoghurt and pot desserts category. Value growth for yoghurts is up from X.X% in 2010 to X.X%, although volume growth has dipped from X.X% to o.X% [Kantar Worldpanel]. And pot desserts have reversed an underwhelming 2010 to post X.X% value and X% volume growth -providing the backbone for the category's overall growth.
But you won't see the brands celebrating. They're not the ones driving growth. Own label is, having seriously raised its game with the launch of new tertiary brands and major revamps of existing ranges nesco gives yoghurts a colourful new look', The Grocer, XX March). Privates are on parade - and they're raining on branded's parade.
Value sales are down for seven of the top XX names in yoghurts and pot desserts, while own label is up X% [SymphonyIRI] - and sales of own-label plain yoghurt are up an impressive XX% [Kantar Worldpanel]. Despite an uplift in featured space promotions (see pXX), the brands have not helped their cause by slashing advertising spend (PXX). Nor have they been helped by changing health claims legislation, anticipation of which has prompted brands to move away from explicit health claims and look at other ways than health to add value.
With pot desserts doing so well, it's no surprise the big yoghurt brands - and now own-label players - are continuing to do well out of their luxury varieties. Danone's Activia Intensely Creamy is the star performer, with value sales up XX.X% and volumes up XX.X% [SymphonyIRI]. But the big story of the past year has been Greek-style yoghurt, which seems to have evolved from niche proposition to main-stream success. Sales have shot up XX% year-on-year [Kantar Worldpanel] as brands have unveiled Greek-style lines.
Last month, Milner rolled out three Greek-style yoghurts under its Mullerlight sub-brand, following the launch of split-pot Greek-style Corners last May - and Yeo Valley launched a limited-edition lemon & ginger pot to complement its existing Greek-style four-packs (see pXX). These launches follow forays from the likes of Rachel's, whose newest Greek-style pot, a ginger variant, "has gone down a storm", according to marketing director Steve Clarke.
Specialist Greek yoghurts - including category stalwart Total, owned by Fage - are also benefiting. Total o% Greek Yoghurt has been pushing its 'yummy side of life' message with two new animated ads, unveiled in January. And it's not just fat-free variants that are doing well. "People are beginning to understand that while true Greek-style has a higher fat content, it is not technically high fat," says Sally Dorling, marketing manager for family-owned yoghurt brand Tims Dairy.
Many of these offerings are designed to be as comfortable on the breakfast or dinner table as they are in lunchboxes. The UK still lags behind Continental Europe in terms of broader usage, but consumption has changed dramatically in recent years. As kids' lunchbox favourite fromage frais struggles, down X.X% in value sales [Kantar Worldpanel], the larger yoghurt category is itself moving beyond the lunch occasion. As Twekkelo UK manager Steve Johnson says: "I think there is a real sense of yoghurt occasions changing - they are no longer only consumed at lunch, but make healthy breakfasts and decadent desserts."
Some brands are specifically targeting the breakfast market by catering for growing consumer demand for healthy or more interesting alternatives to toast and cereal. Take birchen muesli brand Moma, which has tapped into the trend for on-the-go breakfasting. Last month, it launched a XXXg pot of its yoghurt, fruit and oat mix, previously sold only in XXXg portions (see pXX), and will launch a XXXg pot in April.
Even non-dairy brands have benefited from this broadening of the breakfast market. Last month, Alpro launched a soya pouring yoghurt alternative to "tap into the growing usage of yoghurt at breakfast", says commercial director John Allaway.
Like all brands in the category, Moma and Alpro will need to keep an eye on own label, however. There are already a number of own-label birchen muesli offers on the market -and not just from the more premium retailers. In October, Asda launched pots of oaty yoghurt and fruity porridge under its Chosen by you banner. "We've launched a whole breakfast range around offering something extra, such as granola and oats," says category director of chilled Sarah Baldwin. "They're in twin packs, with spoons, because that's where we see yoghurt going -breakfast on the go."
Tesco has also been targeting breakfast with its Yoo range, launched in March 2011. It expanded in December with three sub-brands - Yoo ... Breakfast Thing, Yoo ... Active Thing and Yoo ... Greek Thing, which as well as capitalising on the popularity of Greek-style also taps into the other (not unrelated) big trend of the moment: indulgence.
The past year has seen an explosion in luxurious and exotic flavours. Some, like Yeo Valley, are tapping into demand for seasonal foods. "Consumers want more indulgent, unusual flavours that focus on seasons or food trends," says Ben Cull, Yeo Valley head of brand marketing.
Some, including sheep and goats milk specialist Woodlands Dairy, have given classic English flavours an exotic twist. "We have just discontinued our strawberry, apricot and blackcurrant flavours and replaced them with a new range of fig & apple, gooseberry & elderflower, coconut & lime and rhubarb & ginger," says business manager Mike Lawson. "We found traditional flavours were not increasing sales at all."
Others are launching unusual limited editions. Onken, for instance, plans to roll out two this year, starting with black-berry & vanilla in May. The company says it is already enjoying success with its more exotic flavours, especially its best selling mango, papaya & passion fruit.
Indeed, tropical is the flavour of the moment. "Passion fruit is the most popular," says Amelia Harvey, director of The Collective. For Little Melton Gourmet Yoghurt, which went into Tesco last month, passion fruit is also the biggest seller. "People are definitely trying new things, partly driven by so many great food shows on TV," says founder Mark Collins.
The drive for permissible indulgence is also fuelling an increase in dessert-flavoured yoghurts. Midler, long a fan of pudding-inspired flavours for its Corners, is extending the trend into its Mullerlight range. After launching a coconut variant with chocolate sprinkles in the autumn, it rolled out a mint with chocolate sprinkles limited edition in February.
Muller will be hoping this indulgent NPD can reverse the slight decline in Mullerlight sales, something it attributes to consumers trading up from singles to multipacks. But the slide also appears to be down to declining interest in overtly low-fat offerings, possibly partly due to the indulgent push.
This has also been a problem for Danone. The core Activia brand has experienced a X.X% fall in value sales, and Fat Free has fared worse still, down X.X%. Intensely Creamy, on the other hand, is thriving - and Danone is looking to dessert-focused flavours to revive its more virtuous ranges. "Fat Free remains an area of focus, with limitededition berry & apple crumble and banoffee flavours recently launched in the Snackpot range," says Activia senior brand manager Natalie Brown.
As yoghurts become more like puddings, pot desserts will no doubt have to raise their games. But for now they're sitting pretty - and one sector doing particularly well is rice pudding.
In the past year, Muller Rice value sales have grown X% to [pounds sterling]XX.Xm, with volumes up X.X% [SymphonyIRI]. Commercial director Colin Smith attributes the success to advertising and sampling encouraging consumers to reappraise the brand. It has now been joined by premium players such as Rachel's, Tideford Organics and Yeo Valley.
"There is a real move towards classic British comfort foods in these times of austerity, especially those made simply with good quality ingredients," says Lynette Sinclair, managing director of Tideford Organics.
No wonder Ambrosia - the ambient brand that allowed chilled to steel its thunder - upped its game last month with the launch of a XX-strong range of ambient rice puddings in snack pots, as well as a reseal-able and microwavable sharing pot and a rice pudding with jam on the side (XXp).
Elsewhere in pot desserts, premium Gu followed yoghurts on to the passion fruit bandwagon around Valentine's Day with its After Dark Passion Fruit Souffles. Nestle, Cadbury and Mars, meanwhile, continued to expand in the more established confectionery-themed arena. In October, Nestle launched Aero Finesse, in vanilla and milk chocolate flavours, with XXX calories per pot. Muller Dairy launched a caramel trifle and a series of three limited-edition Cadbury twin pots last year; and Mars will roll out Mars and Twix twin pots in May.
While pot desserts continue to focus NPD on familiar ground and yoghurt brands eye up pot dessert territory, own-label players are going after the brands' traditional playground: the crowded middle of the market. It could prove own label's undoing.
"Retailers have tended to focus on the edges of the own-label market - economy and premium ranges," points out Anthony Donaldson, head of planning at marketing agency Haygarth. "In the future we are likely to see them invest heavily in products in the mid-ranges, traditionally left to brands, where the bulk of sales are made."
It's a high-volume, low-margin arena that is in danger of reaching saturation, believes Colin Smith, commercial director at Muller. "In some instances, retailers will be offering a value own-label yoghurt, an economy label tertiary brand, a standard tertiary brand and a premium own label. I think it's questionable whether all these products are sustainable in the long term."
Own-label players, however, would no doubt maintain this is just an example of pot yoghurt brands calling the own-label kettle black.
TOP XX BESTSELLERS
Yoghurts & pot desserts: XX w/e XX December 2011
SALES CHANGE [pounds y-o-y % sterling] m
Muller light XXX.X -X.X
Danone Activia XXX.X -X.X
Muller Crunch XX.X -X.X Corner
Danone Activia XX.X -X.X Fat Free
Danone Actimel XX.X -X.X
Muller Rice XX.X X.X