Market research agency YouGov SixthSense has published a study suggesting that yoghurt is the fastest growing sector in the UK dairy industry.

Researchers found yoghurt to be the third most profitable in dairy, behind milk and cheese, but said it was the most improved of all dairy markets with around a 7 per cent increase in value on the previous year. Value growth was said to be driven by price rises and interest in healthy eating.

The Dairy Market, 2010 report, published in May, valued the UK dairy industry at £8.8bn in 2009, forecasting a further 3 per cent growth in 2010. The yoghurt, fromage frais and yoghurt drinks market was estimated at £1, 685m in 2009.

The study also said manufacturers could further exploit yoghurt’s healthy image “to take advantage of current healthy eating trends”.

Healthy image

The report suggested that yoghurt firms benefitted from the product’s healthy image as 71 per cent perceived yoghurt as a healthy product. It noted how Danone Activia Light has seen a massive increase in sales in 2009.

YouGov research director James McCoy told DairyReporter.com: “By definition, something viewed as indulgent isn’t normally considered healthy. Yoghurt, however, occupies a unique space in the consumer mindset, comfortably existing under both of those labels. Nevertheless, manufacturers need to strike the right balance between health and indulgence, ensuring that the desire for one doesn’t overshadow the other.”

The health image could also have market potential among parents after 82 per cent of those surveyed considered dairy products good for children.

The study supports earlier research by Mintel which also regarded health and indulgence as the driving force behind the market for yoghurts. Mintel’s research found a 9 per cent increase in product launches in the category over the past year, bolstered by strong demand in Europe.

Consumer trends: multipack and flavoured

YouGov’s findings indicated that multi-packs, which allowed consumer to stock up for the week, were the most popular format in the yoghurt sector followed by individual pots. The authors said manufacturers were introducing more individual pots to promote snacking and impulse purchasing.

In terms of type, an overwhelming 59 per cent of those surveyed preferred yoghurts which were flavoured. Low/no fat yoghurts also proved popular and researchers recommended the use of recipe cards and PR to promote the use of natural yoghurt in cooking to boost sales.

The report was drawn together from market research to establish consumer trends in five key sectors within the dairy market: milk, cream, yoghurts, cheese and yellow fats. Researchers surveyed between 1,500 – 2,200 people to compile the study.