Economy and Business
Thu April 26, 2012
State dairy producers embrace Greek yogurt craze
Wisconsin produces millions of pounds of yogurt each year. Numerous companies in the state make the product. But one style in particular is taking the market by storm.
Move over regular yogurt, the Greeks have invaded, the style of yogurt that is. Greek yogurt is the latest "it" product in dairy aisles. According to an analysis by the bank UBS, annual sales have increased over 100 percent in each of the last three years. Greek Yogurt costs twice as much as its conventional counterpart due mainly to differences in the production process. Still, demand remains high. Mark Stephenson, who directs the Center for Dairy Profitability in Madison, says he hasn't seen this kind of explosive growth in decades, "You'd have to look back about thirty years in the dairy industry and see mozzarella cheese. At that time mozzarella wasn't a very common product at all and we had an explosion of demand for that driven by demand in the pizza industry."
All this growth has caught the attention of dairy producers here in Wisconsin.
Ron Paris operates Sugar River Dairy near Albany with his wife Chris. He introduced a Greek style product a year ago and he says so far it's been a win-win, "We're pleased because we don't particularly think that people have switched from our regular plain yogurt to the Greek style. We think that we've been successful at attracting newer customers who simply want access to that Greek style yogurt."
Brands like Chobani and Fage dominate the market. Even so, smaller producers are capturing a slice of this hot category. By the end of this year, Paris says he expects Greek yogurt to account for 20 percent of his sales.