several ethnic groups is high (6). However, feeding trials with humans (7), and with rats (8), showed that yogurt containing viable microflora could be tolerated by individuals determined to be lactose intolerant. Other research workers demonstrated that the lactase (beta-galactosidase) activity of the yogurt culture remains in the intestinal tract after the culture has lysed and continues to break down lactose (9). This activity can be detected in duodenum and terminal ileum after consumption of viable yogurt (10).

The $2.9 billion yogurt industry is growing at about 3 to 4% every year. The segment catering to children under the age of 12 has shown huge gains. For example, Danimals, a yogurt product targeting children, has grown 137.9% (11). Excluding private label, the top nine refrigerated yogurt brands are dominated by Yoplait and Dannon. In a recent consumer survey of 40 yogurts, quality varied from flavor to flavor in a single brand (12). Many of the yogurts where characterized as astringent, thick, gummy, jam and candy-like flavors, chalky, and slightly bitter. Fruit-containing yogurts also contain large amounts of sugar. This is a huge problem for an estimated 16 million Americans with type 2 diabetes and another 20 to 30 million Americans with impaired glucose tolerance (13). Yogurt formulated for this segment of population can offer a big growth opportunity.

Table 2 Consumption of Fermented Milk Products Other than Cheese in Selected Countries

Country 1993 per capita (kg)a

Finland 38.02

Netherlands 29.64

Sweden 28.54

Iceland 25.85

Denmark 20.66

Switzerland 18.66

France 17.06

Federal Germany 14.77

United States of America 6.00b

Fermented milk products include yogurt, sour cream, and buttermilk.

This brief chapter on yogurt is written to bring a clear understanding of this simple product, which is now becoming a vehicle for introducing probiotics and prebiotics, believed to impart good health by maintaining a balanced and healthy gut. For more extensive discussion on yogurt, see Tamine and Robinson (5).

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