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Colombo Yogurt - First U.S. Yogurt Brand - Celebrates 75 Years; Colombo Takes Yogurt from a Small Kitchen in Andover, Mass., to Kitchens across America.

Feature Editors/Food Writers

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 13, 2004

Just a glance at the yogurt case in any grocery store and it's easy to see how significant the business of yogurt has become in America. As Colombo Yogurt celebrates its 75th anniversary this month, Colombo also celebrates 75 years since the introduction of yogurt to America.

Although yogurt had been enjoyed for centuries in the Middle East, it made its American debut through an immigrant family business on a small Massachusetts farm in 1929. In the years since, yogurt has since become a staple in households nationwide. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by Colombo Yogurt, nearly three in four American adults eats yogurt at least once per week.

The introduction of Colombo Yogurt in 1929 gave Americans their first taste of yogurt and 75 years later, the popularity of yogurt continues to grow. In the last three years alone, the yogurt category has grown 31 percent(1) and in 2003, 72 percent of households purchased yogurt(2).

"In the last few years people have been discovering that yogurt isn't just a breakfast food or a snack, it's a versatile ingredient that can take a leading or supporting roll in any meal -- any time of day," said TV celebrity chef and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Alton Brown.

The $2.7 billion(3) American yogurt industry started over a wood-burning stove at the Andover home of Rose and Sarkis Colombosian. Soon, as Colombo & Sons Creamery, the Colombosians along with sons Bob and John were hand-filling Rose's Armenian family recipe into 8-ounce glass jars and distributing their product throughout the Northeast in a horse-drawn wagon.

Remaining relatively small until the early 1960s when the health benefits of yogurt gained a larger following, Colombo & Sons grew from a family business to a leader in the yogurt industry. Modern machinery replaced the old wood stove, and a fleet of refrigerated trucks replaced the horse-drawn wagon. Though changes were made, what has not changed in 75 years is Colombo Yogurt's quality, delicious flavor assortment and 8-ounce serving size.

"For 75 years our loyal customers have confidently shared Colombo Yogurt with future generations because it has stayed true to its original quality even when we added new varieties," said Bob Colombosian, member of Colombo's founding family. "I wish my parents were still around to see the incredible growth of Colombo Yogurt and what we have achieved in 75 years - I know they would be proud."

Purchased by General Mills in 1993, Colombo continues to be a leader in the American yogurt industry.

"We have the utmost respect for the Colombosian family and the rich heritage of Colombo Yogurt," said Doug Pritchard, marketing manager for Colombo Yogurt at General Mills. "Starting in 1929, Colombo set the standard for what consumers expect from American yogurt and we're pleased to mark this exciting milestone to celebrate how far Colombo has come and what it means to the families that enjoy it."

Today, Colombo Yogurt comes in two varieties, Colombo Classic and Colombo Light, a wide range of flavors, and two packaging configurations, the most popular of which is Colombo's original 8-ounce container. The recent survey commissioned by Colombo about yogurt preferences confirmed that the majority of yogurt-buying consumers prefer Colombo's 8-ounce serving size rather than the 6-ounce size produced by most yogurt manufacturers.

In honor of its 75th anniversary, Colombo has created new television advertising featuring Bob Colombosian and his wife, Alice, spokespeople for the brand since 2001. The ads will run in select markets in the Northeast starting in June.

About Colombo Yogurt

In 1929, Sarkis and Rose Colombosian made the first batch of Colombo Yogurt in their Andover kitchen using a family recipe. Soon, they were selling it across the Northeast, making Colombo the first yogurt sold in America. Now, 75 years later, Colombo is still selling yogurt throughout the Northeast and takes pride in its Massachusetts heritage. Colombo offers both 8-ounce cups and 32-ounce containers and is owned by Minnesota-based General Mills. Visit www.colomboyogurt.com for more information.

Underwritten by Colombo Yogurt, Opinion Research Corporation conducted the yogurt consumption survey by telephone from March 12-15, 2004, interviewing a national probability sample of 1,024 adults 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points for the entire sample and four percentage points for yogurt consumers.

(1) AC Nielsen, US 2MM+, 2000-2003

(2) AC Nielsen Panel Facts, Total US, 2000-2003

(3) AC Nielsen, US 2MM+, 52 weeks ending 3/27/04, excluding Wal-Mart
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