By Koel Thomae, noosa yoghurt

When I created noosa in 2009, my intention was to bring delicious, whole-milk yogurt to store shelves across the country. For me, this started with a taste revelation in Australia and a dairy farm in Colorado: to make premium yogurt, you have to start with good ingredients and have a passion for good taste. Today, premium brands are booming, while mainstream yogurts have experienced flat, or even slumping, sales. But why?

Millennials move toward whole-milk yogurt

More and more, millennials – that driving market force – want premium brands, and they’re willing to spend a little more to get them. Most important to these shoppers are products that have a truly rich, delicious taste and that boast wholesome ingredients. They’re leaving less-than-satisfying low-fat in favor of the whole-milk-enhanced flavors dominating the premium category. And this trend isn’t ending anytime soon: 25% of American food sales will be premium in 10 years, according to The Hartman Group.

“Because yogurt is transforming into more of a department than a mere category, the potential for new innovations and types of yogurt to grow and create competitive sub-segments remains strong,” wrote Laurie Demeritt and James Richardson in the Hartbeat Exec report “Market Dynamics of the New Premium.” Demeritt is CEO of The Hartman Group and Richardson is senior vice president.

Among these sub-segments is a growing set of indulgent yogurts that offer lush texture and gourmet flavors that appeal to consumers looking for a sweet snack rather than the once dominant low-fat fare geared toward dieters.

Our noosa yogurt is a prime example of that rich, satisfying snack. According to Nielsen data, light yogurt sales are steadily declining, dropping 16.6% in the past year, from roughly $1.2 billion to $1 billion. Consumers are no longer limiting themselves to low-fat options, which puts noosa – with its creamy whole milk base and thick, velvety texture – in an optimal position to lead the premium category. Thanks to its prominence, noosa is driving growth in the premium market like no other brand.

Yogurt in bhakti chai and blackberry serrano flavors

Also making noosa a force to be reckoned with is our company’s penchant for pushing flavor boundaries: think unique offerings like bhakti chai, blackberry serrano and salted caramel, alongside classic favorites like vanilla, honey and blueberry.

Yogurt has extended beyond the breakfast table, taking a favored spot among afternoon snacks and post-dinner treats, so we continue to develop our product to meet these consumer demands. This in turn sets the bar higher for other brands, brands that will have to think about how they are prioritizing their innovation pipelines to keep up.

noosa cracks the top 10 yogurt brands

Since I founded noosa with Colorado dairy farmer Rob Graves, our company has become one of the top 10 selling yogurt brands in the United States and No. 1 in Colorado, reaching $100 million in sales last year. Over the past year, noosa has increased consumer awareness more than 40%, and it has the highest future purchase intent among all yogurt brands, according to data from McKinsey & Co. Brands like ours are critical to the health of premium segments, the Hartman Group writes in its report, and dollar growth is up 80.2% compared with a year ago across all outlets, according to IRI data.

noosa has been a ground-breaker in the premium yogurt category since Day 1, and we have no plans to slow down. With a firm eye on the future, we will continue building the brand by staying ahead of culinary trends and innovating for quality and premium ingredients. No matter where our noosa journey takes us, we’ll always hold ourselves to the same standards of high quality and great taste that have helped propel us to the forefront of the industry.

Koel Thomae is co-founder of noosa yoghurt, Bellvue, Colo.

Dairy Foods visited noosa yoghurt in 2016. Read “The story behind noosa’s whole-milk yogurt” and Inside the dairy plant: Noosa Yoghurt, with a side of milk.