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Inside NPD: Petits Filous Dairy Free

Yoplait’s Petits Filous, the UK’s leading child-friendly yoghurt brand, has expanded into the plant-based dairy category for the very first time with the launch of a dairy-free pot made with almonds and raspberries.

The news of Petits Filous Dairy Free dropped at the beginning of July, with the brand launching it’s first plant-based product straight into Tesco, with Morrisons and Sainsbury’s set to follow in September.

The development was prompted by a perceived increase in parents seeking out dairy-free options for their children in the UK, with General Mills (current owners of Yoplait) highlighting a healthy snacking gap in the space.

“In recent years we’ve seen an increase in families seeking dairy-free alternatives either due to intolerances or simply as a lifestyle choice,” said Joanna Goodman, head of marketing for yoghurt in Northern Europe for General Mills.

“With limited healthy snacking options available in this space, we wanted to ensure children who don’t eat dairy can still enjoy the benefits of our yogurts.”

“[Petits Filous] Dairy Free is packed with calcium and vitamin D and offers the same great taste you would expect from Petits Filous.”

So, aside from the launch itself, what caught my eye about Petits Filous Dairy Free?

It’s a ‘Fermented Almond Specialty

First off, after a quick look at the product listing on Tesco’s website, I found that Petits Filous Dairy Free has a rather unusual classification: Fermented Almond Specialty with Raspberry.

It is, therefore, not technically a fromage frais, which is defined as “a type of smooth soft fresh cheese, with the consistency of thick yogurt”.

However, cultures do appear on the ingredients list, with Petits Filous Dairy Free still primed as a dairy-free yoghurt snack, breakfast or dessert for children.

Each 95g pot has an almond base (44.7%) made up of water and almond purée, with flavourings led by raspberry purée from concentrate (5%).

Like it’s dairy-based cousin, Petits Filous Dairy Free contains both lemon juice and carrot juice from concentrate.

Per 100g, Petits Filous Dairy Free contains 96 calories, 127mg of calcium and 0.79μg (micrograms) of vitamin D.

The Social Media Response

Heading over to LinkedIn, it’s clear to see that a dairy-free debut from one of the UK’s biggest yoghurt brands has gone down well.

“When you see major brands spend more time and money developing plant based alternatives – you know things are starting to change for the better,” said Mitch Lee, co-founder and director of Mitch’s Kitchen and UK community builder for Heura Foods.

Even competitors in this space have moved to celebrate Petits Filous Dairy Free.

Jessica Harris, founder of dairy-free kids yoghurt brand, Little Bandits, said on LinkedIn that, as a parent, she is “honestly pleased.”

“As a challenger brand I’m also feeling positive as I believe their entry demonstrates a market opportunity that I’ve believed in for so long,” wrote Harris.

“Petits Filous’ offering starts to build a category which can only be good for us. Little Bandits is still different and has its place as a heathier [sic] offering with more calcium, iodine and half the sugar. There is space for us both and I’ve no doubt parents struggling with allergies or special diets will thank them.”

Tastewise AI-based Analysis

General Mills’ Joanna Goodman has cited “limited healthy snacking options available in this space”, and Little Bandits’ Jessica Harris says that Petits Filous’ move “demonstrates a market opportunity that I’ve believed in for so long.”

Now seems the perfect time to turn to Tastewise to see if their AI-based UK consumer data provides further validation to the existence of a healthy, dairy-free, kids snacking opportunity.

Firstly, according to Tastewise data, dairy-free is “well-penetrated and stable” in the UK, with the term currently appearing on 24.55% of UK restaurant menus and mentioned in 1.54% of all UK Instagram food & drink conversations.

To give some context, ‘vegan’ is only mentioned in 6.69% of all UK Instagram conversations relating to food & drink.

The landscape changes, however, when Tastewise analyses the terms ‘dairy-free’ and ‘snack’, with social media conversations standing at only 0.09%.

The three standout ingredients for ‘dairy-free snack’ are chocolate, berry and yoghurt (Graph: Tastewise)

Despite the small number of social media discussions, it is interesting that, of the most popular/emerging ingredient ‘pairings’ for dairy-free snacks, the three with the highest social media penetration are chocolate, berry and yoghurt.

While still a niche area and small data set, this might still serve as a suggestion for early product targets.

Incidently, in a similar Tastewise search for the term ‘kids yoghurt’, the two standout ingredients are almonds (which saw a +13.2% jump in social discussions in the past year) and berry (which is currently the most penetrated on social media with 35.2% of the share).

The two standout ingredients in Petits Filous Dairy Free? Almond and raspberry.

Finally (and perhaps most significantly), after giving Tastewise’ artificial intelligence the terms ‘kids’ and ‘healthy’ to evaluate, it revealed that the top eating occasion discussed on UK social media is snacks (17.6% of the time), followed by breakfast (15.6%) and dinner (12.3%).

My conclusion? While there isn’t a huge amount of data to go on, this doesn’t mean there’s a lack of demand for health-focused, dairy-free kids snacks in the UK. It’s more about it being still a niche area.

And, to echo Little Bandit’s Jessica Harris, Petits Filous Dairy Free could well be a major building block for the fledgling category as UK consumer interest in all things health and wellness continues to flourish and expand.

‘Snack’ is the most discussed eating occasion on Instagram for the terms ‘kids’ and ‘healthy’ (Graph: Tastewise)
Tom Gatehouse
Tom is the editor of Pure NPD Insights. He previously spent three years at William Reed’s food insight platform Food Spark, was the co-founder and editor of The Cream, is a former Restaurant magazine columnist and has had chef training in fifty of the best restaurants in the UK and Europe.

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