PepsiCo Latest To Enter Fast-Growing Yogurt Market

The company known for its sodas and Frito-Lay snacks "Choco Balls"-flavored yogurt in an effort to offer more "good-for-you" foods.

NEW YORK (AP) — Make room in the dairy aisle for another yogurt.

PepsiCo Inc. is rolling out its first yogurt in the U.S., as the company known for its sodas and Frito-Lay snacks continues bulking up its cupboard of offerings with a more nutritious appeal.

The Purchase, N.Y.-based company says its yogurts will be available in Northeast and MidAtlantic states starting later this month. Distribution will be expanded next year but the company did not set a timetable for when they will be available nationally.

Over the past several years, PepsiCo has been moving beyond its sodas, Cheetos and Doritos to court increasingly health-conscious consumers with "good-for-you" foods, as opposed to what the company calls its "fun for you" foods.

Some of the new yogurt flavors, such as "Choco Balls" and "Chocolate Flakes," seem to straddle that line. The yogurts will also come in standard flavors such as blueberry and strawberry, Greek style flavors and varieties with mixed fruit.

They have between 130 and 220 calories depending on the flavor.

The yogurts are the result of a partnership with Theo Muller Group, a German dairy company. The joint venture, Muller Quaker Dairy, is building a yogurt plant in Batavia, N.Y., that PepsiCo says will be one of the largest in the country. PepsiCo says the plant will create more than 180 jobs. In the meantime, the company's yogurts will be made in Germany.

PepsiCo noted that the U.S. yogurt market is expected to reach $9 billion by 2016, double what it was in 2008.

PepsiCo isn't the only company looking to capitalize on Americans' growing appetite for yogurt. General Mills plans to launch 40 new yogurt products this year, including 100-calorie versions of Greek yogurt under its Yoplait brand.

Greek yogurt makers Chobani and FAGE have also said they plan to expand their operations in New York, which produces much of the country's yogurt.

New York's 29 yogurt plants produced 530 million pounds last year, up more than 40 percent from 2010.

Shares of PepsiCo fell 34 cents to $69.96 in late morning trading Monday. They had peaked for the past year at $70.89 last week.

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