by Marion Nestle
Apr 3 2013

Is Stonyfield yogurt upping its sugar?

Maybe it’s a coincidence but now that Gary Hirshberg has left Stonyfield to work on Just Label It!, its parent company, Dannon, is sweetening up its “Blends” yogurts.  

Or so writes a reader:

Yes it’s more sugar!  In the French Vanilla (6 oz cup), they added 10 g (from 17 – 27g)! 

In the Peach (also 6 oz cup) they added 6g (from 20 -26). 

It’s so bad that kids are fighting over it.  

We have noticed that they are eating less fruit because they want that sugar in the yogurts.

As I wrote of the competition between Dannon and Yoplait (owned by General Mills) in the yogurt chapter of What to Eat

The chief weapon in the yogurt battles is sugar.  Both brands are desserts.  Sugars constitute 55 percent of the 80 calories in Go-GURT, 67 percent of the 90 calories in Danimals Drinkable, and 68 of the 170 calories in Danimals XL.  Even in Stonyfield’s YoBaby organic yogurts…53% of the 120 calories come from added sugars.  Some of Stonyfield’s yogurts for older kids appear berry-flavored, but they have no fruit at all….

The book was published in 2006.  In this instance, I’m sorry that it’s holding up so well.

  • Nancy Huehnergarth

    The chicken egg conundrum — yogurt style. Yogurt companies will claim that they are responding to consumer demand for sweeter yogurts, while some of us feel that yogurt companies deliberately add too much sugar to create more cravings. I’ve been wondering, similarly, whether Emmi Swiss Yogurt, which I have eaten and greatly enjoyed in Europe and recently purchased in the U.S., has a higher sugar content in the U.S. version. Sure tastes a lot sweeter to me but I’d love to know if I’m correct or simply imagining things. The 6 ounce Emmi yogurts for sale here had (gulp!) 25/26 grams of sugar.

  • Kari

    It’s to the point where i just have to buy plain and add my own fruit. I like the taste of yogurt for itself, and if I wanted a pudding cup I’d buy that, then. But unfortunately, people think super sugary yogurts are healthy. 🙁

  • We love yoghurt in our house but I recently saw a documentary talking about exactly how much sugar is in it. It’s one particular snack that seems to be perceived as ‘healthy’ but with all that sugar it really isn’t that great. Trying to cut down on it and stick to plain fruit.

  • Dawna

    This is just so depressing. Most flavoured yoghurts are already way too sweet – I have to cut them with plain.

    I would love for one of these companies to come out with an unsweetened (or even a half-sweet) fruit yoghurt that doesn’t replace the “missing” sugar with artificial sweeteners.

  • koshembos

    Widely produced American yogurt has very remote resemblance to actual yogurts. The Greek style yogurt has become quite popular and is rather sweet. The Eastern European yogurt, carried by Trader Joe’s among others, is much more tart and quite good.

    Danon can do whatever it wants, I couldn’t care less.

  • This makes me angry, but once again, I have to ask, “why are people buying this stuff?” For heaven’s sake, buy the plain yogurt and add your own ingredients to it. Better yet, make your own. It’s so easy, it’s ridiculous, as I show on my blog.

  • thomas cappiello

    Second on Marlene’s comment. Just don’t buy it or make your own. Its very easy. Lucky for US we have nutrition label requirements.

  • Renee Weaver

    Years ago, before I had traveled outside the US, I thought I hated yogurt. It was insipid and sweet and wholly unsatisfying. Even plain, it was merely a little sour. What a revelation when I tasted yogurt in France for the first time! I found that plain yogurt all over Eurpoe was amazing. But not at home. Adding insult to injury was that Dannon at the time had a very tasty yogurt product available in Canada. When I asked when that would be available in the US, I was told it would never happen because Americans do not like anything that flavorful and prefer the sweet and light stuff.

  • I actually don’t think it’s so easy for consumers. Stonyfield is trading on the fact that consumers trust its brand as a “healthy” option and the Blends containers in my corner store are emblazoned all over with the USDA organic symbol. Turn to the side and in tiny type you can isolate the grams of sugar and discover 26 grams of sugar. Marketers and food formulators know that the majority of people value convenience and do not read labels. Telling people to make their own yogurt plays right into the myth, perpetuated by food companies, that there exists a power balance between individual consumers and food producers. If we’re going to make real progress to improve the U.S. diet we’ve got to reduce the amount of added sugar in the food supply. Only the food companies can do that in a way that will have a broad public health impact.

  • It’s what I call the Ben & Jerry approach: Pile it on, they’ll eat it. Ditto for frozen yogurt “toppings,” pizza and massive sandwiches or burgers you can’t fit in your mouth without nearly popping your jaw. I’m sorry to see it happening to some of my favorite Greek yogurt brands, too. Market pressure, I suppose.

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  • Wow, I didn’t realize how much sugar was in these mixtures. I think Marlene is right. I don’t know about making my own yogurt, but I will eat only plain from now on.

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  • Library Spinster

    Philadelphia has two Yogorino stores: plain unsweetened yogurt with your choice of toppings, including nuts and fresh fruit. Tasting it was a revelation to me. Both seem to be doing well, but not as well as the umpteen places offering self-serve flavored yogurt, where even the smaller containers are a bit too big to be a reasonable serving. But hey, the artificially flavored strawberry is Low Fat/ Non Fat!

  • Liz Lagasse

    I am a dietitian and a mama and HATE how much sugar is in sweetened yogurts. It could be such an easy addition to lunches and a quick snack. I contacted Stoneyfield and suggested (begged!) they make a yogurt with just less sugar. Not artificial or even herbal sugar, just less sugar, less sweet. I cannot even stand how sweet it tastes, much less the health issues. Their response (from their RD), was that no one would buy it and I should just buy plain and sweeten it myself.

  • kathy nolan

    At my house, the children eat and LOVE home-made Greek-style yogurt, a regular staple here. Everyone eats at least 1-cup (8-oz) a day…. and it is totally plain – no added flavoring at all. In the morning it’s eaten with fresh fruit and (no more than) 3-T all-bran (known in the family as “sprinkles”). For dessert after dinner it’s eaten with a scant teaspoon of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon – or a tablespoon of low sugar home-made preserves. The children beg for more. Kick the sugar habit, folks!

  • Mo

    It’s really simple. Don’t add anything to the plain yogurt and there wont be any added sugar. In my house we eat it plain. Occasionally we will add fruit. We use Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream. It’s delicious.

  • You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

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  • The Greek yogurt has more sugar than regular yogurt. This is to be expected because the Greek strained. Water is taken out leaving more sugar behind. That’s OK though. It’s the added sugar that’s really too much. The only way to control what you eat is to make it from scratch yourself.

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  • Meme

    Stoneyfield is one of the great travesties of “organic” food- loaded with sugar and marketing its sugar laden stuff to kids. I work in a fresh foods store and would like to tell parents- give your kid a lollipop and get it over with it. Less sugar than a yo kids sippee tube.

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