Monday, January 28, 2013

Greek Yogurt - The Gift That Keeps Giving

Connie Tipton, CEO, IDFA, Hamdi Ulukaya Founder & President, +ChobaniKyle O'Brien EVP Sales, +Chobani.
My favorite quote from the IDFA Dairy Forum so far is undoubtedly Connie Tipton, CEO of IDFA, describing Greek yogurt as the gift that keeps giving. As a major consumer of yogurt in its many forms, I can relate.

About 1000 processors, producers and suppliers from throughout the dairy industry are gathered in Orlando Florida for IDFA's Dairy Forum this year, with the theme of unlocking dairy's potential. In a regularity environment where 57% of food standards are for dairy, and where the consumers' desire for variety is not reflected in terms of regulation, this will be no easy task. As Connie Tipton said in her opening address, "Washington doesn't get it!"

Connie Tipton, who describes herself as an idealist without illusions, said that this is not an economy for the timid. The opportunity lies in innovation where science and technology have produced what she calls a tectonic shift, and where technology is not only required to survive, but can become the vehicle by which to thrive.

Old paradigms no longer work. The opportunity lies in the dairy industry becoming dairy based nutrition providers. In highlighting opportunities for innovation Connie Tipton said to look for even more protein claims, less sugar and more convenience. In this context, yogurt is the ultimate convenience food. As Connie Tipton said, "Yogurt is what US consumers want!"

When I talked to the Dairy Foods' Editor in Chief Jim Carper, his comment on the Greek yogurt inspired growth spurt in the yogurt category was, "Yogurt really has refocused the attention on the inherent wholesomeness and nutrition of milk. A cup of yogurt is like having eight cups of milk because that's how much milk it takes to produce a tub of yogurt."

As Will Smith famously said, "The first step before anyone else in the world believes is that you have to believe it." The Dairy Forum has only just begun, but the message, not just from Connie Tipton but from many participants that I have spoken to, is that if there is one golden opportunity for dairy innovation, it is in the yogurt category. Greek yogurt is today's gift that keeps giving. There will be more. Watch this space! 

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