Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Not quite the same stuff

kw: observations, food, fads

On two occasions in the past, my wife brought home one or two cups of a new brand of yogurt, Chobani, a Greek style yogurt. It was OK, but I am used to more "traditional" yogurt (can't believe I never had yogurt of any kind before about twenty years ago), which I understand is based on Bulgarian practice...but with fruit added. All I could tell about Chobani was that it is thicker and a little less sweet.

Today she got some by Dannon that is proudly titled "Greek Yogurt", and I had to find out more. The phrase "Greek Yogurt" gleans a third of a million hits on Google. It turns out there are two similar product lines that bear the same title.

Firstly, there is strained yogurt made with whole milk or enriched milk, having a milk fat content anywhere from 4-9%. "Ordinary" yogurt is strained through muslin to remove some of the whey, making it thicker and smoother. Then any fruit or other flavorings are added.

Secondly, the Dannon product is zero fat, as are brands such as Stonyfield Farms. As well as I can determine, these products are made from nonfat yogurt that is strained. I don't know what becomes of the whey, but I suspect the producers have some use for it. (BTW, the whey extracted from making tofu in Japan is popular with children there.)

Either way, the extra processing is sure to result in higher cost once the initial "loss leader" products develop a market for Greek yogurt. Thus, it is likely to remain a niche product in the US, particularly in these value-conscious times. For myself, I happen to like the older product better.

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