For the past five years, parent company Danone, along with Yakult Honsha Co. of Torrance, Calif., has funded a grant into probiotics research. The Young Investigator Grant for Probiotics Research awards two $50,000 grants to young scientists.

The Dannon Co. also has been making nutrition education grants since 2006 in communities where it has processing facilities and its headquarters. Last August, Dannon announced grants totaling $120,000 to promote childhood nutrition. Recipients were Joint Township District Memorial Hospital, St. Marys, Ohio; Open Door Family Medical Centers, Westchester County, N.Y.; Texas AgriLIFE Extension Service, Tarrant County, Texas; and YMCA of Greater Salt Lake, Salt Lake City.

Brands like Oikos, Danimals, Pure and Activia address health and wellness head on. In response to concerns from mothers, Dannon removed high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from its children-oriented Danimals SKUs. A Danimals smoothie beverage for Halloween also was touted for its lack of artificial colors, flavors and HFCS. Dannon positions Pure with a clean label statement. Activia addresses digestive health.

Yogurt customers are well-heeled. Mintel found that high-income household (earning $100,000 and more) are more likely to consume low-fat and nonfat yogurt than less-affluent respondents, and that they pay more attention to their health. Mintel also found that 39% of yogurt consumers eat it as a meal replacement, with women (44%) more likely than men (34%) to do so.


A long way to grow

The times could be right for an explosion in yogurt consumption. The popularity of Greek-style yogurt has certainly raised the profile of the category. As public health officials continue to sound the alarm on obesity, some Americans are seeking healthier foods. Yogurt is an easy way to get the benefits of dairy, Valle said. It is easy to digest, contains calcium and protein and is available in a variety of flavors. (Single berry and mixed-berry flavors sell best.) Taste is all important, Fuster said. If consumers don’t like the flavor, they won’t buy yogurt, no matter the health benefits.

“If we can get people to eat one yogurt a day, they will have a healthier lifestyle,” Valle said.

If that happens (just think of 311 million people in the United States taking a package out of the fridge every day), Dannon and other yogurt processors will continue to be healthy businesses for years to come.