Aah custard…. Such a dear friend. It’s got to be one of the most versatile of substances on earth.
These days the yoghurt market is saturated, so dairy foods companies are getting deliciously creative in order to lure shoppers to their particular take on the thick and creamy stuff.
It’s quite overwhelming to stand at a yoghurt section in a major supermarket these days and make a selection: low fat, low sugar, no sugar, organic, probiotic, Greek, Swedish, local, liquid, flavoured, mixed with museli – and of course those individual serves with Disney and other characters on them which the kids won’t stop nagging you to buy (but which I personally try and avoid due to the fact it’s mostly plastic packaging).
I’ve also narrowed the choice a little by giving up entirely on any yoghurt with artificial sweetener in it.
Sweetener may reduce the calories but for me, it also changes the taste, infusing the natural and wholesome qualities of yoghurt with a slight bitterness reminiscent of high school chemistry.
This preference appears to be a trend. According to Dairy Australia, sales of unflavoured, traditional varieties of yoghurt have overtaken those of sweetened and flavoured yoghurts, and now account for more than 50% of the market.
Despite all the choice, good old fashioned natural yoghurt is very popular, as consumers embrace heathier alternatives.
But the other half of the time, it’s clear consumers are embracing the trend of yoghurt as an indulgent treat, similar to ice cream, with flavours such as coconut, coffee, caramel and chocolate and lemon meringue readily available.
Consumer trends are driving the trends in yoghurt product development, according to Cassandra Dinino, marketing and communications consultant with Adelaide-based yoghurt company Moo Premium Foods.
Last year the company went national with its range of yoghurts and rice puddings, and undertook extensive consumer research as part of a product and brand refresh.
“Consumers told us they wanted more gourmet and innovative flavours and they want a ‘better for you’ product as well,” Cassandra said.
The company responded, converting from more traditional flavours like mango and boysenberry, and moving to more glamourous combinations such as orange and passion compote, sticky apple and organic honey, banana caramel sundae, and boysenberry and acai. (If like me you had no idea what acai is, it’s apparently a ‘superfood’ from the Amazonian rainforest which is high in antioxidents and fibre.)
Cassandra says being locally-produced and Australian owned is another key trend.
“Many consumers are seeking local. That want to support Australian businesses and they want to support Australian farmers.”
As with milk however, it can’t always be that easy to determine if a product is truly local, in that it is both Australian owned and made.
Regardless, our tastebuds are grateful that there is something for everyone. And if the choice is too overwhelming, nothing beats a good dollop of natural yoghurt to satisfy a creamy craving.