Probiotic drinking yoghurts slide a little, spoonables ride better

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Russia Europe European union

Probiotic drinking yoghurts slide a little, spoonables ride better
Sales of probiotic drinking yoghurts like Yakult and Danone Actimel are flatlining or dropping in most western European markets, and even in Japan where the concept was born, but BRIC markets are surging, and spoonables are shining brighter.

Euromonitor International statistics show drinking yoghurt sales sliding in Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Ireland, Germany and France between 2006 and 2011, with most markets peaking in 2009.

Even in the world’s biggest market for these products – Japan – the market has been falling too, registering at €2.5bn last year from a peak of €2.8bn in 2007.

In Spain sales peaked at €493.8m in 2009 compared to €396.2m last year. Italy hit €269.4m in 2009 but sat at €231.5m in 2011.

Germany moved from €354.9m in 2009 to €310m while France dropped slightly from €202m to €197.9m.

Between 2006 and 2011 the UK improved slightly, from €245.8m to €247m.

European Union regulatory ambiguity regarding health claims and the ongoing Eurozone recessionary problems provide the background, factors that have not affected the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China).

While the Indian market remains minute (€3m), the others are flying, especially China and Brazil, which have become the second and third-biggest global markets after Japan with near 300% growth rates.

China surged from €487.2m in 2006 to €1.3bn in 2011. Brazil shifted from €399.6m to €1.1bn in the same period and Russia grew from €170.1m to €426.9m.

Other eastern European countries like Poland, the Ukraine, Hungary and Romania all showed steady if unspectacular growth.

The US slipped from a 2009 height of €270.8m to €213m. Mexico fared better moving from €231.8m to 393.8m.


The probiotic spoonable yoghurt category that includes the likes of Danone Activia, fared better overall, especially in the western European markets.

In the UK, sales of €312.1m surged to €646.2m last year, Italy moved from €200.7m to €386.7m, Spain hit €439.9m from €317m and France from €405.4m to €451.2m.

Spoonables did well too in the US, growing from €438.2m in 2006 to €1.56bn in 2011 to take Japan’s crown as the world’s biggest market in this category.

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