Danone Buys YoCrunch Yogurt-Topping Maker to Grow in U.S.

Danone said it bought toppings producer YoCrunch as the world’s biggest yogurt maker expands in the U.S.

YoCrunch, which was founded in 1985, has net sales of $110 million and has had double-digit growth in recent years, Paris-based Danone said in a statement today. Naugatuck, Connecticut-based YoCrunch is the market leader for yogurts with flavored toppings, the French company said. Danone didn’t disclose an amount for its purchase of the closely held company.

Danone is adding to its U.S. dairy business to make up for western European consumers switching to cheaper private labels in the debt-burdened region. U.S. yogurt sales are forecast to increase to $8.4 billion by 2018 from $6.5 billion last year, according to data from Mintel. Danone accounts for about 30 percent of the market with brands such as Dannon, Danimals and Activia, figures from researcher Euromonitor International show.

Danone rose as much as 0.3 percent to 59.25 euros and was trading up 0.1 percent at 9:12 a.m. in Paris. The stock has gained 18 percent this year.

The company reported second-quarter sales growth that beat analysts’ estimates on July 29 after its dairy division gained 2.6 percent, excluding acquisitions, disposals and currency shifts, as people ate more Greek yogurt in the U.S.

YoCrunch’s yogurt toppings include Fruity Pebbles, M&M chocolate candies and Oreo cookie pieces. The company also sells a lime Greek yogurt topped with graham-cracker pieces. Industry growth in the U.S. has been driven by Greek yogurt, which now represents 45 percent of yogurt sales in the country and may become the biggest category in six months, according to a report from Bernstein Research.

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