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Ambient yogurt – a category with untapped potential

Ambient yogurt solves demand for extended shelf life as well as distribution in poor cold chain conditions

For dairy producers facing challenges in growing their cold yogurt market share, ambient yogurt offers a new avenue for growth. Ambient yogurt – yogurt at room temperature – is the latest trend coming from China and has boomed in popularity in recent years.

Ambient yogurt is a fermented dairy product – typically stirred or drinking yogurt. It is heat treated after fermentation. The fermentation process captures all the benefits of bacterial cultures before the heat treatment process, which creates a product that can be stored at room temperature and a healthy, convenient alternative to cold yogurt.

“There is large untapped potential for this category – particularly in regions where customers are challenged in cold chain conditions. Ambient yogurt reduces distribution costs and complexities compared to cold chain distribution. This makes it easier to export and therefore expands our customers’ market potential. For dairy producers facing challenges in growing their cold yogurt market share, ambient yogurt offers a new avenue for growth,” explains Thomas Skaaning, vice president, Commercial Development. 

China leading the way

Ambient yogurt has been marketed in China since 2007. As the category starts to catch on in the rest of the world, trends are towards even more differentiation with a variety of flavor and brand options. 

“Ambient yogurt has driven the rapid growth the fermented dairy segment has seen in China, and it is equally relevant in other parts of the world. At Chr. Hansen, we have been part of the category in China for several years and, using our 140 years of fermentation expertise, we want to be the partner of choice for ambient yogurt producers around the world,” adds Skaaning.

Meeting consumers’ needs and preferences

Ambient yogurt offers all the benefits of fermented milk products, which meets consumer demand for healthy food options while also satisfying the busy consumer with its on-the-go format.

“Ambient yogurt offers nutrition, convenience and taste benefits comparable to regular yogurt. The benefits of the bacteria are captured before the heat treatment process, which results in an ambient yogurt that provides a good source of dairy protein, vitamins and minerals. It can be safely transported and consumed without being compromised by unstable conditions,” explains Patrick Nascimento Melsted, commercial development manager.

“Healthy, on-the-go snack options are in high demand from consumers. Today’s convenient meal options like ready-made meals and fast foods are increasingly linked to serious health issues. In many markets, ambient yogurt will be a new category solving the consumer dilemma ‘healthy vs. convenient’,” Melsted adds.

A growing product portfolio for a growing category

Ambient yogurt is part of Chr. Hansen’s core fermented milk business. We are already a market leader in ambient yogurt culture solutions, and we are now growing our YoFlex® range of cultures to help customers differentiate through flavor, texture and acidity.

“We have now added two new cultures to our YoFlex® product portfolio, which we have specifically developed for use in the ambient yogurt category. With this range of cultures, we can support our customers’ differentiation within the category – as well as being able to meet customers’ different needs relating to fermentation and production processes,” Melsted concludes.

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