Counter Cultures

Yogurt is portable, impulse-driven and compatible with other items

When Alabama c-store operator Narayan Baddam replenishes his refrigerated case with packaged single-serve Dannon yogurts, he owes his stock to his trusty “distributor”: his local supermarket.

Owner of Fuel Zone and Danville Park Shell in Decatur, Ala., Baddam buys yogurt for his c-stores during grocery excursions, eventually stocking them next to the cheese, milk, cottage cheese and sour cream in his refrigerated case. He makes 20% margin on rings of Dannon single-serve yogurt. What he doesn’t sell, he eats.

“[Most] customers never ask me for packaged yogurt, and my wholesaler never pushes it for me to stock,” says Baddam, who stocks fewer than 10 units of Dannon SKUs per month and does so to accommodate a small group of customers who request it.

It doesn’t have to be that meager. C-store retailers hoping to step up their yogurt efforts should pay attention to changing trends and opportunities, including drinkable yogurts.

Sales trends also indicate an interesting shift in nutritional demands. Speaking during a recent snack webinar, Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president and practice leader, client insights, for Chicago-based IRI, said whole-fat products are the ones with the most upside, with 156% growth fueled by compelling innovation.

Greek offers, which have driven massive growth over the past several years, saw a 1% decline in unit sales in 2016, despite a continued influx of new items, according to the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA), Madison, Wis.

Another key to better cup cultivation is capitalizing on key attributes, from protein to probiotics. Communicating high protein is important, because snack items accompanied by protein claims grew 6.6% in 2016, Lyons Wyatt said.

Retailers should also think beyond the refrigerated case. Eric Richard, education coordinator for IDDBA, says retailers should promote yogurt as a “healthy fuel,” and establish a “fuel up” display “loaded with yogurt, protein shakes, granola bars and fresh fruit like bananas and grapes.”

“Make it easy for customers to find,” he says. “It’s about positioning, and the focus should be about fresh and less processed.”