Americans’ love affair with Greek yogurt provides an opportunity to deliver healthier breakfast options with the great taste and protein consumers are looking for to start their day. In particular, plain Greek yogurt’s neutral taste makes it the perfect base for a variety of morning favorites such as smoothies or parfaits, providing endless possibilities for customization.
Whether for its thicker and creamier texture or for its high level of protein, consumers are increasingly opting for Greek yogurt. According to NPD, nearly one in three individuals eat some type of yogurt. However, plain Greek yogurt is quickly outpacing all varieties and is expected to account for 50 percent of the bulk yogurt category by 20161. One of the biggest opportunities for foodservice to leverage this growth to increase sales is during the breakfast day part.
During the hectic morning hustle, consumers are looking for breakfast options that will help fill them up and give them energy, according to Bill Trovinger, consumer insights senior associate at General Mills Convenience and Foodservice. As a result, protein is often top of mind with consumers in the morning, making Greek yogurt a smart option to have on your breakfast menu.
“Greek yogurt is a protein powerhouse with twice the protein as regular yogurt along with offering other important nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin D and potassium,” said Trovinger. “Consumers who are health conscious recognize the nutritional benefits that Greek provides and also appreciate its tangier and less sweet taste.”
Think Outside the Cup
Gilles Stassart, a corporate chef for General Mills Foodservice who works closely with non-commercial foodservice operations, shares some ideas to incorporate plain Greek yogurt into breakfast programs. One of his favorite ways includes taking a salad bar, that would otherwise go unused in the morning, and transforming it into a yogurt parfait bar.
“Yogurt parfait bars are the perfect way to meet customer demand for Greek yogurt at breakfast with an on-trend menu item they can customize to their preference,” said Stassart. “Think of the possibilities using plain Greek as a building block or a base to customize a parfait with a variety of mix-in ingredients.”
He suggests stocking the yogurt parfait bar with a good balance of healthier options and perhaps a few more indulgent ingredients so that you can attract as many customers as possible. Fresh fruits are always a hit but frozen or canned fruit can be used for new flavor combinations. Other popular parfait ingredients include granola topping and other cereals, but Stassart has also been surprised by how popular some out of the ordinary ingredients such as hard-boiled eggs can be at a parfait station.
“Fresh” is also key when stocking a yogurt parfait station. Stassart acknowledges that the size of the operation will impact how often food will need to be replenished; however, he advises re-stocking yogurt about 2-3 times a day and then putting out a small quantity of other ingredients at the same time and replenishing as necessary. A simple chart or visual listing each of the items stocked in the yogurt bar can be helpful to kitchen staff along with assignments on who should be rotating and refreshing them.
Stassart notes that smoothies are also a great morning menu item to leverage the popularity of plain Greek yogurt and offer a convenient item for customers on the go. In fact, foodservice smoothies have grown six percent in the past five years with nearly half of consumers recently purchasing a blended fruit beverage at either a fast-food restaurant or smoothie shop2 —a hallmark of their growing popularity.
Like parfaits, smoothies can be customized to the customer’s preference with fresh or frozen fruit or even a variety of flavored syrups. Either regular or Greek yogurt give fruit smoothies a creamier texture while providing calcium and protein—making them a popular choice among health conscious consumers.
Beyond smoothies and parfaits, Stassart says there is no limitation to working with Greek yogurt as an ingredient as it does well in a number of sweet and savory recipes.
“It is one of the most versatile ingredients I know,” said Stassart. “It is great for any application, for instance add mango and pineapple to it and you have a tropical smoothie, layer it with smoked salmon, capers and hard-boiled egg and you have a great savory main course.”
Back to breakfast, he suggests using plain Greek yogurt as a substitute for cream or other higher fat ingredients like sour cream or cream cheese. From pancakes to muffins and other baked goods, it can be used when operators want to offer “better for you” foods and give their consumers healthier options with less fat and fewer calories.
For more information and tools to turn your own salad bar into an on-trend parfait bar, visit www.YoplaitParfaitCafe.com. In addition check out our delicious on-trend recipes using plain Greek yogurt such as Greek Yogurt Berry Coconut Fruitshake, Gluten-Free Sweetheart Parfait and more.
1SupplyTrack Bulk Yogurt, 12 months ending August 2014 with 2 prior years.
2Mintel Smoothies and Shakes Made to Order July 2012