Kraft has announced that it is discontinuing its Athenos line of Greek yoghurt.
The news follows General Mills’ announcement in March that it would focus on the Greek yoghurt market (it is expected to announce details of its plans in June), and PepsiCo’s announcement of a joint venture with Müller to manufacture yoghurt.
"Although we had a loyal following of Athenos Greek yogurt fans, we have decided to refocus our efforts on innovating new products for the Athenos brand," Kraft said in a statement. Some existing Athenos products will still be marketed, include feta cheese, pita chips, spreadable cheese and hummus.
No reason has been given for Kraft’s decision, although it is reasonable to suspect that it decided this was a market in which it could not achieve acceptable market share.
The yoghurt market in North America has become something of a battleground, with smaller companies such as Chobani and Fage identifying the Greek yoghurt opportunity more quickly, and rapidly capturing substantial market share and the two leading market positions.
Chobani is said to have 60% of the Greek yoghurt market, with sales of $700 million.
Greek yoghurt accounts for a quarter of the North American yoghurt market, and sales grew at 64% last year. It is creamier than regular yoghurt and said to be high in protein but low in fat.
Analysts have speculated that Kraft’s Athenos sales were around $15 million in the past year – a tiny fraction of its $54 billion annual sales.
Athenos Greek yoghurt was launched by Kraft in autumn 2010.