TL;DR: the go-to to-go yogurt is no longer Go-Gurt
Though I haven’t eaten yogurt from a plastic tube in years, the practice of eating Go-Gurt still feels deeply familiar. Squish yogurt away from top of tube. Rip open tube. Squeeze out yogurt. Use index and middle fingers to squeeze yogurt towards mouth as tube empties. Roll up nearly-empty tube completely to deposit last bits of yogurt. If you were a kid in the early 2000s, you know the drill. Go-Gurt was once the go-to, but where is the tubed snack now?
Launched in 1999 (by General Mills-licensed Yoplait) as a low-fat yogurt for kids, the first of its kind. Just one year after Go-Gurt hit the shelves, Ad Age reported that the product earned $100 million in retail sales, making General Mills the leader in refrigerated yogurt (ahead of Dannon Co.) Further, Go-Gurt’s success launched a yogurt renaissance, bringing excitement back to what was a relatively stagnant product category.
“It's remarkable how quickly Go-Gurt has permeated the whole kid environment and become a critical part of the fabric of kids' lives,” Ian Friendly, president of General Mills at the time, said to Ad Age.
Now, almost 20 years since the launch of Go-Gurt, yogurt is still booming—in the realm of breakfast and beyond. As of January 2018, a study found yogurt market sales in the US reached nearly $9 billion in retail sales, with growth expected through the next four years. The recent nationwide trend of “wellness” is certainly a contributor to the surge in yogurt’s popularity, as the study mentions consumer’s attraction to organic, full-fat, and even dairy-free versions of the ingredient.
Because of these shifts in the yogurt market, General Mills’s yogurt portfolio has slumped in the past few years. In 2016, President and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Harmening told Fortune that their “product portfolio is not aligned with the trends,” and that company planned “renovate” 60 percent of the company’s yogurt business, with an emphasis on Greek yogurt, and organic options produced by Annie’s and Liberté brands. Harmening also mentioned the launch of a new brand “Go Big,” as a teenager-friendly version of Go-Gurt. The plan did not seem to pan out; in 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported the company’s yogurt sales fell 22 percent, marking the ninth consecutive quarter of declining revenue.
I had Senior Food and Drinks Editor Kat Kinsman put the call out to her friends with children on Facebook, and the results were fascinating. While a handful of people on the thread said their kids enjoy Go-Gurt proper, most mentioned they were bigger fans of tube yogurt made by other brands. Folks discussed tube yogurts from Trader Joe’s to Chobani to Stonyfield Organic. I was extremely excited to learn from the group that Siggi’s, my personal favorite brand of yogurt, also makes a tube variety. Several people mentioned their kids enjoying Horizon Organic’s “Tuberz,” which no longer appear to be manufactured by Horizon Organic; instead they exist as a kid’s menu option at Panera Bread. Many also spoke to the benefit of freezing tube yogurt and feeding it to their kids like pops, or to ensure it stays cold in a lunch box.
TL;DR: Go-Gurt proper may be less popular these days among parents and kids, but tube-yogurt as a whole is apparently still very of the moment.