Shelf-stable drinking yogurt has exploded in China since its debut in 2010, growing at a rate that has it accounting for 13 percent of the country’s total yogurt category in 2014. By the end of 2017, total sales are expected to reach $5.6 billion. According to Tetra Pak, these factors indicate the category has significant untapped global potential.

In the US, and many other countries, consumers are forgoing traditional meals and opting for quick snacks and treats that better fit their on-the-go lifestyles. The success of drinkable yogurt in China has been driven by convenience, taste and nutritional benefits—all achieved without the need for refrigeration. It’s these strengths that catch the attention of the modern consumer, according to Tetra Pak.

“Ambient drinking yoghurt is flourishing because it appeals to the lifestyle of the modern day consumer, not just in China but globally,” said Dan Björklund, manager of Center of Expertise Dairy at Tetra Pak. “Dairy brands have recognized this and we are getting requests for the product from small local producers, as well as international companies, from all around the world.”

 To make ambient drinking yogurt suitable for on-the-go consumption and snacking, the product formulation has to be smooth and stable throughout its shelf life, while also preserving the fresh taste of yoghurt. According to Tetra Pak, this requires a distinct product formulation and processing procedure. It is the same as chilled yogurt in the initial stages, but needs heat treatment and aseptic filling after fermentation to ensure the viscosity and shelf-life is maintained for several months.