New York’s Greek Yogurt Boom

November 25, 2013 08:45 PM
New York’s Greek Yogurt Boom

Can the state’s milk production keep up with demand?

Cornell University has released the first of two research papers that analyze both the impact and the potential of Greek yogurt production in New York.

The first paper shows the rise of Greek yogurt consumption and production. In 2009, Greek-style yogurts made up a mere 2% of total yogurt sales. Three years later, Greek yogurt comprised 34% of total yogurt sales and 22.5% of total volume. In 2011, sales of non-Greek yogurt fell 10%, while Greek yogurt sales skyrocketed 71%.

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Link to study

In 2012, per capita Greek yogurt consumption was 14 lb. But there’s far more potential ahead since Canadian per capita consumption is 20 lb., and French and German consumption is three times that.

New York is the epicenter of Greek yogurt production mainly because it began there in 2005 with Chobani’s founder. The state is now home to six yogurt plants.

"New York rapidly moved to become the dominant player in the Greek yogurt segment and is now the leading manufacturer of yogurt in the U.S. The large-farm milk production sector in New York is an important factor in the development of this product segment, but the proximity ... to the demographically large, rich and diverse population centers of the northern Atlantic coast is even more important," say the research paper authors, economists Robert Boynton and Andy Novakovic.

But further expansion might be hindered by New York’s inability to ramp up milk production fast enough.

To increase production, New York has modified its so-called mid-size Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) regulations. The state also promises to double incentives to install methane digesters and created a new "dairy acceleration program" that offers up to $5,000 per farm to analyze dairy expansions, adopt best management practices and employ new technology.

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