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Frozen yogurt comes of age.

In less than a decade, frozen yogurt has evolved from the fringes to the forefront of the frozen desert industry.

Frozen yogurt first appeared in East Coast health food stores in the late '60s. Eager to market a frozen desert for the health-conscious, stores combined a pre-made milk and sugar base with refrigerated yogurt, and sold the concoction frozen. Nutritionally, the product was a success, as it offered the low fat and low calories of yogurt; however, the taste left something to be desired. Thus, the product was relegated to health food stores until the fitness craze began to sweep the nation in the late 1970s.

At this time, fitness-minded consumers created a demand for a great-tasting, lowfat and low-calorie dessert/snack that would fit into their new lifestyles. Colombo Frozen Yogurt helped pioneer the industry in 1976 with the introduction of a frozen yogurt that was a considerable improvement in taste and texture over earlier efforts.

With the problems of consistency and taste corrected, frozen yogurt re-emerged in shops devoted solely to selling the product. The revised product was a huge success, and soon became the dessert of choice for the millions of health and fitness-conscious consumers that typified the '80s.

The frozen yogurt industry saw double-digit growth throughout the '80s. According to Find/SVP, estimated retail sales of frozen yogurt have increased from $850 million in 1986 to an estimated $2.2 billion in 1990 - a compound annual growth rate of 26 percent.

The growth of the soft-severe shops segment in the late '80s fueled the expansion of frozen yogurt into new outlets. Savvy marketers targeted new and innovative locations to make the great taste and nutrition of frozen yogurt more accessible to consumers. Branded frozen yogurt concepts began to appear in locations such as department stores, airports, convenience stores, stadiums, hospitals and company cafeterias.

Because of its overwhelming popularity, the next logical step for frozen yogurt was to pre-package it so consumers could enjoy it at home. The late '80s saw the emergence of "hard packed" frozen yogurt in grocery stores. The new grocery segment positioned frozen yogurt directly against ice cream, and offered consumers a healthy alternative in the freezer case.

The product soon proved itself. According to the International Ice Cream Association, packaged frozen yogurt volume tripled in 1989. And from 1990 to 1991, the frozen yogurt category within the grocery segment experienced volume growth of 33 percent.

The incredible growth of the grocery segment has seen many players emerge. Not only have frozen yogurt companies expanded their offerings in this segment, but well-established ice cream companies have entered it as well.

The frenzied activity in the segment has contributed to varied product offerings for consumers. Shoppers can choose anything from a super-premium frozen yogurt with indulgent mix-ins - a healthy alternative to fatladen super-premium ice creams - to varieties that offer the texture and nutritional benefits of soft-serve products. In addition, consumers watching their weight can choose extremely low-calorie offerings made with NutraSweet[R]

The future of frozen yogurt looks bright indeed. According to Find/SVP, the frozen yogurt category is expected to continue with double-digit growth through 1994.

To continue to experience such growth, the frozen yogurt industry will need to provide consumers with new and interesting products - and it's already happening. New product innovations such as nonfat frozen yogurt shakes, soft serve product with mixins and novelties geared toward children will help to make frozen yogurt even more appealing to a wider variety of consumers.

Frozen yogurt has come of age in the '90s. And as we look to the year 2000, frozen yogurt looks to become the dessert/snack of choice among Americans who are demanding great-tasting products with lower levels of fat and calories. By then, Americans across the county may be saying, "Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and frozen yogurt."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Frozen Food Digest, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Silverlieb, Paul
Publication:Frozen Food Digest
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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