Decoding cultured dairy's success

Nov 29, 2023
Baked potato loaded with sour cream

Sales in the cultured dairy foods category – covering yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream and buttermilk – are approaching $2 billion within the Dairy MAX region* in 2023 and over $14 billion nationwide.

Dairy MAX's recent analysis dives into the category's performance over the last five years, offering insights for processors, retailers and restaurants. From leveraging social media trends to tapping into consumers' health consciousness, cultured dairy foods present opportunities to boost your business.

"The cultured category shows a lot of promise for dairy," said Greg Timpany, Dairy MAX business and insights analyst. "Nationally, the category has seen a 4.2% volume increase since 2019, and within the Dairy MAX region, that increase shoots up to 7.8%.”




Refrigerated yogurt is the king of cultured dairy foods.​

Nationally, refrigerated yogurt accounts for 60.7% of cultured dairy foods’ volume and 58.1% of the category’s dollar sales. The story is much the same within the Dairy MAX region, with 58.5% and 55.8% in volume and dollar sales, respectively. Notably, within the Dairy MAX region, refrigerated yogurt sales are on track to eclipse $1 billion in 2023.​

Volume and dollar sales are heavily influenced by external factors.​

General price increases in the category due to external factors like inflation have supported increased dollar sales between 2019 and 2023. Notably, all foods within the cultured dairy category saw a volume increase during the first year of the pandemic (2020), but the category has not been able to sustain those increases.​

Social media trends help bump up the category.​

In 2022, volume sales for cottage cheese declined 3.8% nationally, compared to just 0.8% regionally. However, in 2023, cottage cheese began to go viral on social media, specifically on TikTok. The digital hype around the cultured dairy food led to product volume increases of 4.8% nationally and 5.8% regionally. Cottage cheese is likely to exceed 55 million units in the Dairy MAX region this year.

*The Dairy MAX region covers Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, western Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas.