Yogurt: Dairy’s New Cash Cow

Yogurt sales approach $9 billion in 2017; Annual sales growth expected to continue until at least 2022 – The U.S. yogurt industry grew to about $9 billion in 2017 according to “The Yogurt Market and Yogurt Innovation, 3rd Edition” report buoyed by increasing consumption, growing awareness of health benefits, a shift towards higher-margin products and innovative new products. U.S. consumers have embraced not only frozen yogurt and Greek yogurt, but also authentic, clean-label and organic versions, as well as yogurt drinks, making yogurt dairy’s new cash cow.

The companies highlighted in today’s commentary are positioned to benefit directly from this growing trend toward diversification within the dairy industry, include: Generation NEXT Franchise Brands, Inc. (OTC:VEND), Danone(OTC:DANOY), General Mills (NYSE:GIS), MTY Food Group Inc. (TSX:MTY) and Shake Shack Inc. (NYSE: SHAK).

Generation NEXT Franchise Brands, Inc. (OTCQB:VEND) is the developer of the world’s first fully-automated robotic frozen yogurt vending kiosk designed to disrupt brick and mortar competitors: Menchies and Yogertland. These “unattended” robots eliminate the need for costly rents, employees, food safety measures and are capable of operating 24-hours a day. Since its debut, the company’s frozen yogurt robot brand has grown to over 255 franchisees across the U.S. and represents over 1,275 pending robot installations aggregating over $55 million, with additional contract commitments for over 2,900 robots worth an estimated $115 million ($170 million in total) in potential future revenues for Generation NEXT Franchise Brands, Inc. One of the company’s more high-profile franchisees, PGA Championship golfer Phil Mickelson, announced an interest in the company, signing a contract in June to deploy 30 Reis & Irvy’s locations in Southern California. The company has a partnership agreement with global leading frozen yogurt maker Dannon YoCream™ to frozen yogurt consumables in VEND’s Froyo Robots.

Danone (OTCQX: DANOY); spent to acquire plant-based food company WhiteWave whose products have delivered strong growth for a company known for its namesake yogurt and water. The plant-based portfolio delivered high single-digit growth with results were buoyed by the Silk brand. With sales up 3.3% in the second quarter, the French yogurt giant has achieved 4% sales growth in the first half of the year with global sales of nearly $14.6 billion.

With a $53 billion market cap, Danone is a leading global food and beverage company built on four businesses: Essential Dairy and Plant-Based Products, Waters, Early Life Nutrition and Advanced Medical Nutrition.

General Mills (NYSE:GIS), whose yogurt brands include Yoplait, Liberté, Annie’s, Go-GURT and Mountain High, is one manufacturer updating its yogurt portfolio. General Mills plans to grow its Oui brand, which was launched in fiscal 2017 and will reach $100 million in sales during its first year. New product initiatives will include extending the line into snacking with the introduction of Oui petite pots. In addition to expanding Oui, GIS is introducing YQ, a new yogurt brand made with ultra-filtered milk that delivers what modern consumers are looking for today: high-protein, less sugar, simple ingredients and great taste.

Sales are growing again. Yoplait, one of General Mills Inc.’s core U.S. businesses, is making strides in Greek yogurt. And Yoplait’s “original” yogurt line has blossomed with a new marketing campaign. “The business has turned, ” said David Clark, president of Yoplait’s U.S. operation. “This is the first time we have seen [growth] metrics in three years.” The company announced on December 12, it would buy fellow Canadian restaurant owner Imvescor Restaurant Group Inc. for $192 million, continuing the streak of consolidation in the quick serve restaurant sector.

MTY Food Group Inc. (TSX:MTY), owner and operator of franchises Yogen Fruz, TCBY, La Cremiere, Pinkberry, tasti D-lite and Coldstone Creamery, declared a quarterly dividend of 15¢ per share, payable on August 15, 2018 to shareholders registered in the Company’s records at the end of the business day on July 31, 2018. The company announced on December 12, it would buy fellow Canadian restaurant owner Imvescor Restaurant Group Inc. for $192 million, continuing the streak of consolidation in the quick serve restaurant sector.

Shake Shack Inc. (NYSE: SHAK) is scheduled to report second-quarter 2018 financial numbers on Aug 2, after the market closes. In the last reported quarter, the company’s earnings have surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 85.7%. The bottom line also outpaced the consensus mark in each of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 56%. The company, with 162 stores globally, is bullish with expansion plans. The team anticipates 48 to 53 new locations opening in 2018 to get closer to its goal of 200 U.S stores by 2020 and 450 globally long-term. Some of the first-quarter growth reflects nine new openings — five in the U.S. and four internationally.

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