PepsiCo patents process to co-ferment oat flour and dairy milk
Drinkable or spoonable products containing both oats and dairy could be a hit for Quaker, although they would need to appeal to consumers through taste, texture, price and packaging. Oats and dairy have better-for-you nutritional profiles, so yogurt, smoothies, kefir or other items making provable health claims could resonate in the market — especially bearing the name and logo of a well-established brand.
Fermented products could be another on-trend advantage. Quaker’s patent said the process breaks down carbs into simpler metabolites that can aid digestibility and absorption of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Whether the patented co-fermenting process will attract consumers is another question, and one Quaker would need to address with astute on-package statements that aren’t too complicated yet adequately convey the claimed benefits.
Chobani managed to strike a chord with busy consumers through its popular Chobani Flip, a yogurt snack offering crunchy add-ons such as nuts, chocolate pieces and graham crackers bits. Chobani also has augmented flagging Greek yogurt sales by introducing a children’s line, squeezable yogurt condiments, a lower-sugar lineup and revamped packaging. Danone is innovating by offering reduced-sugar yogurt with its Two Good line and plant-based options with its Good Plants brand.
Nevertheless, producing more yogurt options right now — even co-fermented ones — might not be the best strategy since the segment is already crowded and sales have dropped. Yogurt sales fell 6% by volume through February of this year, according to Nielsen data reported by The Wall Street Journal. Sales of Greek yogurt declined by 11% during the same period. Meanwhile, the number of varieties on hand at retail stores has jumped 4% since 2015.
Another reason PepsiCo and Quaker Oats might want to proceed with caution is because the parent company’s partnership with the Theo Müller Group — which had produced Müller Quaker Dairy yogurt products — failed to engage consumers. It ran into stiff competition and ended after three years in 2015.
PepsiCo has invested in dairy as a way to pivot away from sugary soft drinks and other less-healthy products, according to Forbes. Some of its current focus is on markets outside the U.S. such as Latin America, where consumers are increasingly interested in health and wellness.