Greek yogurt is the Jeremy Lin of food products, launching out of nowhere into a stunning and sudden rise in fortune, reports the Los Angeles Times. Greek yogurt, overall, has had one of the fastest growth spurts the food and beverage industry has seen in recent history. In each of the last three years, sales of Greek yogurt have boomed more than 100 percent, while non-Greek yogurt has crept along at single-digit speeds, according to Nielsen.
Sales at Chobani Inc., which claims nearly half of the Greek yogurt market share in the U.S., soared 2,812 percent in 2008 alone, according to a report from UBS Investment Research. Greek yogurt now accounts for more than $1 billion in revenue a year in the U.S. -- about a quarter of total yogurt sales.
Yogurt of all types is the food trend of the decade, according to NPD Group. Not only is it popular with young adults because it's perceived as being healthful, it's also a prominent ingredient in some ethnic cuisines that are increasingly gaining a foothold in the U.S.
"The rise of Greek yogurt is remarkable," says Jenny Anderson, director of research and consulting for Technomic. Aside from effective advertising, the product boosted its profile "with new formats such as tubes that don't require a spoon, drinkable smoothies and parfaits that have a heartier appeal thanks to the inclusion of granola and other ingredients."
And now, Ben & Jerry's is jumping into the fray with Ben & Jerry's Frozen Greek Yogurt in four flavors -- Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Fudge Chunk, Banana Peanut Butter and Blueberry Vanilla Graham. "Our flavor gurus, who try to keep on top of trends and tastes, were well aware of Greek yogurt completely owning the refrigerated aisle," says Ben & Jerry's spokesman Sean Greenwood.
So now there is no reason not to eat your Greek yogurt or, as my mother called it, yiaourti.