Breakfast’s “healthy” option is losing steam. While yogurt was once the creamy, portable darling of breakfast, its popularity has dropped. With yogurt sales on a slow but steady decline—2.8 percent as a whole, and almost 5 percent for Greek yogurt, according to Neilson—it’s clear that something is going wrong in the dairy department. The likely culprit is people not caring about yogurt. For years, sweet, fluorescently colored low-fat yogurt was king. Even when it's whipped and artificially flavored like key lime pie, yogurt was still yogurt, so it was considered healthy. When Greek yogurt first caught the eye of the public several years later it was touted as a return to the thick, filling yogurts of yore. Encouraging consumers to lean into the tart taste, Greek yogurt brands declared their plain flavors luxurious and other brands’ dessert-flavored offerings passé. Neilson’s data suggests the public is craving a new spoonable hero. With consumers dragging their feet and the leading brands in both the Greek and non-Greek departments attempting to win back fans with new products and ad campaigns, I have to ask: Why do we need gimmicks to eat yogurt?
Traditional yogurt company Yoplait, which has tried unsuccessfully to launch Greek yogurt products in the past, has just announced their French-style yogurt, “Oui,” which comes in a glass jar instead of a plastic cup. Just becuase the company doesn’t have a specific charming backstory doesn’t mean they couldn’t create one. In what the New York Times calls “manufacturing authenticity,” Yoplait’s new French-style production of yogurt is simply an attention-grabbing device to reinvigorate consumers. And although they have a real rags-to-riches story, prime Greek yogurt producer Chobani has still noticed the consumer shift away from their products. This week, the company released a line of traditional low-fat yogurt called Smooth.
Excited as the brand seems about Oui, Yoplait isn’t ready to give up on their OG product if it could win back consumers. A recent PSA-style ad by Yoplait is geared toward mothers. The spot features mom audaciously admitting to practices like breastfeeding (or not!), wearing yoga pants in public, or bribing their kids. The most shocking confession? These moms feed their kids Yoplait. “It’s not made with cage-free, Norwegian hemp-milk,” and their kids are just fine, the ad says. Clearly intended to slam the holier-than-thou rhetoric of wellness-oriented products, Yoplait wants Mom to know that they think she’s doing a great job. Yoplait will never mommy-shame you; eat Yoplait.
Out of character and even contradictory shifts for major yogurt companies indicate the general uneasiness around the future of the industry. It appears that without constant shticks, consumers get tired of yogurt and stop buying it. Perhaps it’s high time to stop thinking about what your yogurt says about you as a person and just eat what you want.