Can you guess what's being called the food of the decade?

Can you guess what's being called the food of the decade?

It’s a lofty title for a humble food item that’s long been associated as a mundane breakfast staple. But over the last decade, yogurt makers have tapped into a winning formula that includes positioning the dairy product as a versatile, portable food, digestive aid and nutritious snack for kids and adults alike, says major market research group NPD in a release this week.

In the US, per capita yogurt consumption has more than doubled over the last 10 years, the group says, with nearly one in three people eating yogurt regularly.

Innovative flavors and products have also helped drive growth in the fast-moving industry.

There’s a yogurt product for everyone, the group points out: yogurt packaged in mini cups for tots; yogurt that claims to help with digestive health or lower cholesterol for adults; and innovative dessert flavors that appeal to the in-between market such as sweet-toothed millennials and young adults.

Then there’s the meteoric popularity of Greek yogurt, which is in a category all on its own.

It’s precisely yogurt’s versatility that has made it such a successful product, say NPD analysts. For example, the snack has moved out from beyond serving as just a breakfast item to be consumed as a meal, a mid-afternoon or mid-meal snack and dessert.

Over the last five years, 39 percent of the yogurt consumed was consumed for breakfast, followed by 20 percent as a mid-meal snack and 19 percent eaten at lunch.

'Popularity among young people'

Another dynamic at play in yogurt’s monumental growth? The fact that young people 18-34 are beginning to heed the message that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, with fewer people going to school or work on an empty stomach.

Moreover, the number of 18-34-year-olds in the US is also up 6 percent since 2007, says NPD, and yogurt is fast becoming a breakfast staple.

The result is a perfect confluence of factors to make yogurt a food success story and a fridge staple, with three-quarters of all yogurt consumed in the home.

Another sign that yogurt is becoming a major trend can be found in New York, where yogurt bars are setting up shop.

Fashioned after premium juice boutiques and ice cream parlors, yogurt bars allow customers to build their own yogurt parfaits and smoothies.