Commercial sales dip but environmental concerns make home yoghurt kits a growth area
Sue Reed, who lives in Northumberland and runs a business knitting with recycled wool, has been making her own yoghurt for years. Weve been trying to live sustainably and frugally for a long time. We grow our own veg, try not to use supermarkets and were eating seasonally before it all became zeitgeisty, she says. You could say were hippies in the hills, but it really is so much cheaper and tastier to make your own yoghurt.
Reed brings fresh milk to the boil, then allows it to cool before tipping it into a plastic tub with some starter culture. She then leaves it in her airing cupboard under a woolly cover. You dont actually need fancy equipment, she says, just a bit of practice.
However, John Lewis buyer Stella Winklewska reports that sales of an 80 multicooker with a yoghurt setting are up 300%. Our customers are getting more creative in the kitchen and investing in [products that allow them] to add a personal touch.
At Lakeland, a spokesperson cited concern for the environment and a desire to reduce plastic waste as driving sales of its own-brand electric yoghurt maker, up by 49% in the past year.
The growth of DIY makers comes at a tricky time for big yoghurt: following a decade of growth, yoghurt sales fell by 6% by volume in the year to February, according to Nielsen data, and sales of Greek yoghurt declined by 11%. In Britain the Grocer reported volume sales for big brands down by as much as 10% in 2017. For food writer Priya Krishna, homemade yoghurt isnt just a staple but a way to connect with her heritage. For many South Asians, the important element is the starter culture: it not only gives yoghurt its unique, familiar flavour, but also allows makers to preserve and perpetuate their heritage, she writes.
Krishna tells of relatives who transported yoghurt cultures across continents and shared them with their community. A long-lived starter culture can become an heirloom, she says. Her own father has nurtured his yoghurt culture for 26 years.
The forecast for non-dairy yoghurts remains healthy, however, as the market adapts to demand for coconut, soya and almond milk. With an eye on the growing vegan market, this month the boss of French group Danone announced plans to triple its healthfood sales by concentrating on plant-based drinks and desserts.
But could waiting at least eight hours for homemade yoghurt to ferment become the norm? I think I made my own yoghurt once, in 2008, says food writer Felicity Cloake. But you can buy such great stuff I dont really see why youd bother.