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Since being launched in the U.S. by Fage in 1998 and by Chobani in 2007, Greek-style yogurts have enjoyed a rapid rise in popularity as consumers look to increase their protein intake. As of 2016, Greek-style yogurt accounted for 37.5% of yogurt sold to U.S. consumers.1
Greek-style yogurts refer to the products that are typically higher in protein (8-10%) and have a thicker texture than regular yogurts. Greek yogurts are available with fat levels ranging from nonfat to full fat. They don't have a separate standard of identity in the U.S.
Many of the manufacturing steps for Greek yogurts are similar to traditional yogurt manufacture. The milk is pasteurized and cooled to incubation temperature (40-43C). The cultures are added to a large batch and allowed to incubate until the yogurt reaches pH 4.6 (typically 4-6 hours). After incubation, the yogurt goes through a concentration process to achieve the higher level of protein by "straining" out water, lactose, and minerals. Concentration processes include use of a quark/cream cheese separator or ultrafiltation (membrane separation). Both processes produce a co-product which is called acid whey. After straining, the yogurt is cooled and packaged.
A less common method used for making Greek style yogurts, involves fortification of the milk with dairy proteins. This method incorporates whey proteins, milk proteins, or ultrafiltered milk into the milk prior to pasteurization. The remaining manufacturing steps are the same as regular yogurt. The protein content can be adjusted to reach the same levels (8-10%) as the straining methods. By this method, there is no acid whey production but the incubation time will be longer than a regular yogurt (8-10 hours).
Because of the high level of protein, Greek style yogurts don't typically need added stabilizers to give them texture stability. Greek yogurt offers a consumer a more nutrient dense yogurt that has thick, creamy texture.
1DMI Yogurt Snapshot Report, 12-25-2016.