Are Americans who eat yogurt ready to wrap up their Greek phase and move on to whatever's next?
Oui, is the answer General Mills is hoping for. The Minnesota company rolled out its new yogurt brand on Monday and it's French.
Specifically, it's Yoplait that introduced the new French yogurt which will hit grocery shelves in July with eight varieties in glass jars labeled Oui.
What is French yogurt?
General Mills says one of its product designers who grew up in France remembers that when his mother made yogurt, she put the ingredients in a pot. Then came a long wait for the yogurt to "set" until it was finally ready to eat.
That's the idea behind Oui yogurt, which will be "pot set" and sold in the same French glass jars it's made in, the company says.
Yoplait director Doug Martin says making yogurt in individual jars is a lot different than making a giant batch and filling containers with it. “It’s the simplest way to make yogurt, but it’s also the hardest to do at scale,” Martin says.
General Mills touts the simple ingredient list – whole milk, cane sugar, fruit, and yogurt cultures – and says Oui has no preservatives nor any artificial flavors or colors.
The fruit settles to the bottom of the pot. The company says the French prefer to leave it there to avoid disrupting the yogurt's thick texture, but Americans are welcome to stir the fruit up.
According to BuzzFeed, Oui will sell for $1.50 a jar, which is twice the cost of regular Yoplait.
Losing the yogurt war
General Mils needs Oui to be a hit because Yoplait's sales have been shrinking enough to drag down the company. Their March earnings report showed yogurt sales in the U.S. dropped 20 percent in the quarter.
Earlier this month a Star Tribune business columnist suggested General Mills should just get out of the yogurt business altogether.
Instead, they're gambling that the hunger for Greek yogurt (which Yoplait never successfully tapped) will be replaced with an appetite for the French kind.
And the difference in taste might not be the determining factor in the French vs. Greek clash of yogurts. Marketing might be more important.
Studies show that Chobani, the brand that soared to the top of the Greek yogurt market, benefited from the oft-repeated story of its founder – a Turkish immigrant whose commitment to authenticity helped make the brand cool, the New York Times says.
Will the image of the French mother letting the yogurt set in the pot for hours give Yoplait's new glass jar brand a similarly authentic narrative? You know the answer General Mills wants.