Functional drinks drive UK yoghurt boom

The UK yoghurt market is booming, with research group Mintel predicting sales in all categories will hit $3.79 billion by 2011 — 40 per cent more than current levels. Yoghurt drinks have led the way, growing at a staggering 432 per cent since 2001, with sales rising from $117 million in 2001 to an estimated $625 million this year.

And functional varieties have been the star performers. "Yoghurt drinks are ideal for eating on the go and [they] tap into the snacking zeitgeist of modern Britain in a way that yoghurt pots struggle to do," said Mintel senior market analyst David Bird. "However, their real success lies in the fact that many are functional drinks and are designed to have a specific benefit beyond their nutritional value. The functional food and drink market is booming in Britain, and by offering consumers a quick and easy way to enjoy the benefits of functional products, these yoghurt drinks have come up with a winning combination."

Even so, yoghurt pot sales, especially functional varieties, have increased 26 per cent between 2001 and 2005 with sales expected to rise a further 5 per cent this year to reach $1.8 billion by the end of 2006. "The majority of growth in the yoghurt pot market has come once again from functional varieties, as well as from organic lines," Bird observed. "While once the star of the yoghurt pot sector, virtually fat-free products have suffered as consumers look for additional health benefits over and above fat-free. The early adopters of functional yoghurts have, to a large extent, come from the fat-free sector, having already established an interest in active health within the yoghurt market."

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