Health & Wellness


A dairy food favorite of consumers of all ages, yogurt offers a wide variety of nutritious flavors and forms to meet the health and wellness needs of consumers around the world. Available in a full spectrum of flavors, with and without mix-ins like fruit, granola or even candies, from spoonable to squeezable to drinkable, yogurt is a showcase convenience retail packaged product. A popular restaurant sector menu item, yogurt further serves as an ingredient to bolster specialty smoothies or provide unique flair to chef creations like soups, dressings, sauces and bakery items.

Taste preferences and lifestyle needs vary, and yogurt is available in a near-dizzying array of flavor, protein content and fat level combinations designed to meet consumers' varying desires. Yogurt -whether it is non-fat, low-fat, or made with whole milk-is also available in "light" or reduced-calorie yogurt forms. The popularity of Greek-style yogurts, which are typically excellent sources of protein, is sharply on the rise. Protein-rich Greek-style products made up 36% of total yogurt volume sales in U.S. retail outlets for 2014, up 10% over the prior year. This compared to only 2% of total 2009 U.S. retail yogurt sales volume.1  

Yogurt Trends

yogurt health

A long-time dietary staple in many cultures, U.S. yogurt consumption continues to take hold. The average U.S. yogurt per capita consumption hit 6kg (14 lbs.) in 2012, a major gain compared to the less than a kilogram (907g/2 lbs.) in 1975, but far behind the 60 lbs. per capita consumption in France and Germany in 2012.3 But yogurt is among the top five stand-alone breakfast menu listings in U.S. restaurants.2 Meanwhile, drinkable yogurt and fermented beverage popularity is on the rise around the globe, with 12% compound annual growth rate over the last five years.3 As part of a healthful breakfast, a satisfying snack, a meal accompaniment or even as an indulgent dessert, yogurt:

  • Packs a nutrient punch
  • Delivers additional healthful attributes like beneficial bacteria
  • Provides taste appeal, portable convenience and a near-infinite variety.  

Yogurt Packs Nutrient Punch

Yogurt is a nutrient-dense food that delivers protein and a wide range of nutrients to consumers in all life stages. The primary ingredient of yogurt is milk. It makes yogurt a source of high quality protein that contains the essential amino acids needed for various stages of growth and development as well as cell repair throughout life.4  

Many people aim to get sufficient daily protein in their diets, and yogurt is a nutritious, convenient option that typically contains more than 5g of protein per single serve container.  Beyond the protein benefits, a typical single serving of yogurt also contains more than 200mg of calcium, which makes yogurt an excellent source of this important nutrient. Yogurt also provides other essential nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin D, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin B12.  

Different Yogurt Types and Select Nutrient Contributions.

Yogurt Nutrient Content

Yogurt Delivers Healthful Attributes

Consumers want products that taste good and at the same time, help meet health and wellness needs. Yogurt delivers on healthful attributes including nutrition and digestion, and comes in a wide variety of options to satisfy the needs of all ages and stages, from children and teens to adults and seniors.  

Yogurt contains live and active cultures-microorganisms needed to convert pasteurized milk to yogurt during the fermentation process. Some yogurts also contain additional probiotics, beneficial bacteria that can aid in digestion.  Probiotics have a long history of association with dairy foods, particularly fermented dairy products such as yogurt.  

Research continues to explore the effect of live and active cultures on the immune system, as well as a healthy digestive tract. One study found increased yogurt consumption may help increase one's resistance to immune-related diseases, particularly gastrointestinal infection. This increase in resistance is linked to the presence of live and active cultures in yogurt.5  

A separate study of yogurt and gut function found people with certain gastrointestinal conditions-such as lactose intolerance, constipation, diarrheal diseases, colon cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease-could possibly benefit from yogurt consumption. The authors attribute the benefits of yogurt consumption on gastrointestinal function as most likely due to effects mediated through the gut microflora, bowel transit, and enhancement of gastrointestinal innate and adaptive immune responses.6  

For those who experience lactose intolerance, yogurt has an additional benefit: ease of digestion. Yogurt starter cultures contain the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose.  

Taste, Portability and Variety Appeal

Yogurt is a dairy food that helps meet health and wellness needs of all ages. The many positive attributes of yogurt put it in high demand as a delicious food and as an ingredient in other food and beverage products. In the United States, yogurt consumption has skyrocketed in part due to consumer desire for more protein in the diet. Yogurt, especially protein-rich Greek yogurt, is also a popular ingredient for addition to bars, beverages, and cereals.  

Convenient packaging and portability also allows for yogurt consumption in-home or on-the-go. The many different forms and varieties of yogurt-stirred/blended, set/fruit-on-the-bottom, squeezable, drinks and smoothies, Greek, and even frozen, continues to drive consumer interest and demand in the yogurt category.  

1 IRI Custom DMI Market Advantage Database. December 2014.
2 Datassential. U.S. restaurant tracking, 2008-2013.
3 Innova Database. Drinking Yogurt/Fermented Beverages. October 2013
4 Bos C, et al. Nutritional and Physiological Criteria in the Assessment of Milk Protein Quality for Humans. J Am Coll Nutr. 2000. 19:191S-205S.
5 Meydani S, Ha WK. Immunologic effects of yogurt. Am J Clin Nutr.  2000.  71:861-872.
6 Adolfsson O, et al. Yogurt and gut function.  Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 80:245-256.