Greek Yogurt is on Fire

(image source: Serious Eats)

Yogurt is a health food mega trend that’s few decades years old. But within the yogurt category, there’s a breakaway subcategory that is simply on fire: Greek yogurt sales have been doubling every single year for the past five!

Hungry yogurt eaters are now voting with their spoons, as more consumers make the switch from conventional to Greek yogurt. Five years ago, annual sales of the dairy product totaled just $60 million. But this year, food industry analysts predict Greek yogurt will almost double last year’s sales to $1.5 billion. read more from NPR…

So what exactly is Greek yogurt?

Basically, it’s yogurt that has been strained. The loss of water leads to a thicker yogurt. More yogurt and less water means more nutrients. All the Greek yogurt brands boast the high protein value of yogurt which can keep you satisfied longer before you get the munchies. And just like the conventional yogurts, Greek also come with different varieties of live and active cultures that play nice with your gut.

It’s interesting to note is that the leading yogurt brands failed to identify the trend early on and are now playing catch up to Chobani and Fage, who pretty much came out of nowhere to lead the segment. What’s truly amazing is that Greek yogurt is priced double the that of conventional yogurt.

What to do at the supermarket:

Just as with traditional yogurt, you need to watch out for nutrition pitfalls. Always opt for the low fat or nonfat yogurt options.

Flavored Greek yogurts may be adding more sugar to your diet than you expected. So best to stick with plain Greek and add your won flavorings.

If you’ve never had Greek yogurt, you’re in for a treat. But it’s an acquired taste, so don’t give up if you don’t enjoy it on the first try. Buy a plain yogurt and add some honey to see how it goes.


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  • tiff

    From what I understand, greek yogurt is more expensive than regular yogurt because it takes 1 1/2 times?? regular yogurt to make greek yogurt.

    You can save a bit buying a large container of greek yogurt and put into containers instead of buying the individual yogurt containers.

    I stick with the plain/FF greek yogurt and use honey or maple syrup to sweeten it.

    • Kammy

      It’s more expensive because it’s a hot trend and people are willing to pay outrageous prices for it. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=643547290 Laura Pettit Diaz

        You can save yourself a few dollars by buying a yogurt strainer and making your own greek yoghurt.  My mom used to strain yogurt and make cheesecake out of it.  It was really tasty and a lot lower in fat.

      • carol

        Exactly. And thanks to the trend-followers, it is nearly impossible to find plain regular yogurt anymore. The price is right and what’s wrong with a little water? Want more protein? Eat a larger helping. Want something thick? Eat sour cream.

  • Biolobri

    I prefer Fage or Chobani 0% and add in my own fruit (usually blueberries and/or peaches).  I find it needs a bit of a stir to get the creaminess I need.  I love everything else Trader’s does, but their greek yogurt was tough for me to swallow.

  • Paula Jakobs

    I love greek yogurt with honey. Fage is great, but you can easily make your own. Just make conventional yogurt and strain it. You can use the remaining whey in various recipes. Saves a lot of money and is pretty easy to do. Here’s one easy way to make yogurt: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html
    And here’s uses for whey:
    http://faithfulprovisions.com/2010/03/31/whey-cool-uses-for-whey/

  • Weber

    Australian Culture Yogurt is better. ;)

  • http://twitter.com/lauren_015 Lauren Smith

    I get Athenos plain Greek yogurt. <3

    And you're right; it's definitely an acquired taste. I tried plain Greek yogurt before I had even tried plain conventional yogurt, so even the flavor was a shock for me! So tangy! But now I love both.

  • Gabriella5783

    I buy the Fage plain and add blue agave nectar and granola/fruit. Delish! :)

  • Mr. Bill

    Greek is good, but I still prefer regular. It’s a combination of habit, aversion to trends (even good ones) and price. It doesn’t seem worth the price. Also, I get FULL FAT when I can. It tastes way better and is more satisfying.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Monica-Warstler/518805946 Monica Warstler

      I thought i was the only one that still eats full fat yogurt!
      I prefer a little fat over starchy fillers.

      • http://eatenword.wordpress.com/ Kathy

        I’m a full fat yogurt eater, too!  A lot of what I’ve been reading indicates that the fat in dairy (and meat and nuts) is not responsible for making you fat.  That’s the job of carbohydrates.  Full fat tastes better and is not bad for you.  

        A good starting point: What we get fat and what to do about it by Gary Taubes.  
        Easy to read pop sci version: try the Michael Pollan books.

  • slantendicular

    Can you remind me why it is important to choose low/no fat? This fooducate post seems to indicate that the evidence for it is ambiguous: http://www.fooducate.com/blog/2010/11/22/the-great-fat-debate/

    • Brian

      I concur. If you absolutely think you need a low fat diet, or prefer the taste, then by all means knock yourself out with the zero/low fat yogurt. I don’t think most people will see any difference in the world if they use the low/zero fat products vs the full fat products. The satiating effects of full fat greek yogurt may mean that you eat less calories and maybe even lose weight that way. There is a lot of science that suggests that low fat diets are causing obesity and heart disease. (See  the reporting done by Gary Taubes and check his sources for research.)

      • Lisa

        I can’t imagine why someone would choose low fat unless they had to. I’ve tried the lf yogurt by Liberte and it pales in comparison to the full fat.

        Liberte’s Greek yogurt is super thick but pretty bland on its own, despite the fat content — but oh, the thicknesss…

        • Gerome

          Lisa, full fat is tasty, but most people who study causes of heart disease would tell you that it is unhealthy. So, the reason to choose low-fat or fat-free would be perhaps to live beyond 60 free of coronary artery disease, the leading cause of death in our fair land.

          Yogurt can be sneaky-bad for you. For sake of comparison, a “serving”, 4 ounces of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate ice cream has 10 grams of saturated fat. 4 ounces of full-fat yogurt, which is less than what the USDA calls a serving has 8 grams. You THINK yogurt is good for you, and don’t ever imagine it has about the same fat as super-premium ice cream. We all know that you should eat B&J’s sparingly. Do we know the same about yogurt?

          • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Fooducate

            Gerome that’s a great comparison.

          • Toni92

             That is a great comparison- but is it really the fat we should be staying away from?  I avoid Ben & Jerry’s (and ice cream in general) for the sky high sugar content.  As a diabetic, I need to control my carb intake.  Having a little fat in my foods extends the absorption time- thus helping to control my blood sugar levels.  Is a little fat so bad?  The studies are really out on this one- we need more information.
             In an otherwise healthy and balanced diet, I would rather opt for a little natural fat in my yogurt and enjoy the lasting satiety and more balanced blood glucose levels.

      • Gerome

        Brian, your reasoning, that by eating full-fat yogurt, you fill up quicker, eat less and maybe lose weight runs contrary to most science. Why would you want to avoid full-fat Greek? 16 grams of sat fat in a cup. So 80% of the recommended total in a day. Low-fat Greek is very creamy.

        And Gary Taubes is a physicist/writer selling books. I’d toss the challenge back to you to share evidence that supports Taubes’ claims as to the causes of obesity and heart disease.

        • slantendicular

          I just read this summary of a review of studies (by McMaster University) which apparently concluded that fat consumption is not linked with heart disease (e.g.  high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, stroke, or rheumatic fever/rheumatic heart disease)

          http://www.drbriffa.com/2009/04/17/no-evidence-that-saturated-fat-causes-heart-disease-its-official/

          • slantendicular

            (though I read other sources that state the standard line that we know: saturated fat consumption -> cholesterol -> heart disease. I haven’t looked at that study enough to see if it actually conflicts with this common knowledge. So, the most reasonable conclusion to me seems to be that the following is true:

            High Blood Cholesterol. One of the major risk factors for heart disease is high blood cholesterol. Cholesterol, a fat-like substance carried in your blood, is found in all of your body’s cells. Your liver produces all of the cholesterol your body needs to form cell membranes and to make certain hormones. Extra cholesterol enters your body when you eat foods that come from animals (meats, eggs, and dairy products). Although we often blame the cholesterol found in foods that we eat for raising blood cholesterol, the main culprit is the saturated fat in food. (Be sure to read nutrition labels carefully, because even though a food does not contain cholesterol it may still have large amounts of saturated fat.) Foods rich in saturated fat include butter fat in milk products, fat from red meat, and tropical oils such as coconut oil. Too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad cholesterol”) in the blood causes plaque to form on artery walls, which starts a disease process called atherosclerosis. When plaque builds up in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart, you are at greater risk of having a heart attack.

            http://chinese-school.netfirms.com/heart-disease-causes.html

  • Joanne P.

    I’d like to echo the comments already made re: recommending low/no fat products. I’m curious as to your thinking here. From the research I’ve done (and from experience, which is not as reliable, I know, but here it is), eating foods with their natural/normal amount of fat is more satisfying and can lead to eating less overall because you feel full faster. I also know that when you take the fat out of products you have to put something else in to replace the loss of creaminess or mouth feel. In yogurt, this tends to be gelatin &/or skim milk powder, and then you don’t really have yogurt anymore (which is supposed to be milk and bacteria–period). If it’s weight loss you’re thinking of, I’ve lost almost 10 lb. this summer by eating real, full-fat home made food–just a little less of it. : )

    • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Fooducate

      While some yogurt companies replace the fat by horrible fillers, the low fat yogurts that don’t have anything added (such as plain Greek yogurt) are usually very satisfying (due to the protein) and lower in SATURATED FAT and calories. 

      Despite some debates, saturated fat, especially from animal sources, has been scientifically proven to increase chances of heart disease. 
      http://www.nutritionevidencelibrary.com/evidence.cfm?evidence_summary_id=250189

      • Brian

        Well, why didn’t you mention more about the fillers in the article. I think those could be of more harm than fat (depending on the type of fat… you say saturated in your post replying to Joanne P, but there are much more harmful fats… ie trans fat.) Especially anything processed and artificial. Sugars and artificial sweeteners should definitely be discussed in at least the same light as fat, because you run at least the same risks (if no more so) eating too much sugar, and/or artificial substances. You sort of glance over the idea eating plain yogurt instead of flavored when discussing sugar, and tell people to always avoid the full fat versions.

        My take would be the more natural the yogurt is (fewer ingredients, less additives) the better.

        • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Fooducate

          Hi Brian, we talked about fillers in other yogurt articles on Fooducate, for example: http://www.fooducate.com/blog/2009/02/13/so-whats-inside-yoplait-yogurt-anyway/ 
          As it pertains to Greek yogurts, they tend to be pretty thick so they don’t usually need modified corn starch. The ones with fruit may add some pectin or locust bean gum, stuff you would add to your homemade jam. We both should agree that the best option is low fat, unflavored yogurt.The debate is whether next best should be low-fat flavored yogurt or full fat plain. The answer would depend on what has gone into the flavoring as well as what other sources of saturated fat you will be consuming during the day.

  • GreenCuisineList

    You can also buy regular yogurt and strain it through a cheese cloth overnight (in the frig) then you will achieve the same thickness as Greek yogurt.

  • Mel B

    I buy the fat free costco brand and make Lanbna with it (strain 2 cups of it with 1 tsp of salt, it is like cream cheese, but without all the crap). I use the fat free kind in this case because once the lanbna is done I like to add a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, so I get the fat from that. However, if I am just going to eat it with fruit, then I like the full fat version. It tastes better and I feel more satisfied after I eat it.

  • Kimberli Holton

    I have Greek Gods non-fat brand in my fridge right now but I prefer Fage brand. I love adding fresh fruit, flaxseed meal, nuts and/or dry cereal to Greek yogurt for a balanced meal but I could eat it plain it’s so good. :D

  • Susanandsam123

    This article had more typos in it than I’ve ever seen in a Fooducate post.  It was distracting, there were so many!

  • http://www.go-greece-vacations.com/index.html traveler11

    I like the sour greek yoghurt better than the sweet one

  • Joan Cortez

    I still think there is a lot of misinformation about fats.  After years of fat free products and a fatter public, does anyone have scientific proof to back the claims.  I keep reading full fat yogurt is the best.  I also read that grass fed butter is great.  I read that coconut oil is great for you.  Every site you visit has conflicting information. No wonder people cannot lose weight.