Premium yoghurt reviews

Yoghurt doesn’t have to be loaded with fat to taste deliciously creamy.
 
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01 .Introduction

Yoghurt on a spood with some fruit

In brief

  • Fourteen brands of premium yoghurt on test. We tell you which taste best.
  • Two of the top-scoring brands are low in fat. Clever food technology is used to make them taste creamy.
  • CHOICE tested only flavoured yoghurts as most people find them more appealing. Since most brands have a wide range of flavours, where possible we chose strawberry as it's the most common.

Yoghurt is a convenient dessert with a healthy reputation. Made from milk, it has plenty of quality protein, calcium and B vitamins. But are those extra delicious premium brands just as healthy, or do they taste so good because they’re loaded with fat and sugar?

To find out, CHOICE bought 14 brands of premium yoghurt widely available from the major supermarket chains. There’s no clear definition of premium yoghurt so we looked for yoghurts described on the label as “premium”, “gourmet”, “European style” or “Greek style”. Often they were also described as “rich”, “thick” or “creamy”.

We compared their fat and sugar contents and asked some ordinary consumers to tell us which ones they thought tasted best.

While all the tested yoghurts contain added sugar which boosts their kilojoules, even the most fattening come in well under the energy content of many other desserts. A piece of pavlova (75g), for example, would hit you with about 1140kJ, while a serving of chocolate mousse (85g) delivers 1260kJ.

The good news is that there are brands of premium yoghurt you can really enjoy without going on a guilt trip.

Please note: this information was current as of January 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


Brands tested

  • Brooklea Indulge Strawberry
  • Bulla Greek Style Gourmet Blackberry and Blueberry
  • Dairy Bliss Spring Delights Deli Yoghurt Strawberry
  • Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy Field Strawberries
  • Gippsland Dairy Raspberry Organic Yoghurt
  • Gippsland Dairy Raspberry Twist
  • Jalna Premium Creamy Strawberry
  • King Island Dairy Vanilla Bean Yoghurt
  • Margaret River Strawberry
  • Ski Divine Wild Strawberry
  • Tamar Valley Premium Creamy Raspberry
  • Vaalia Low Fat Strawberry
  • Woolworths Select Low Fat Strawberry
  • You’ll Love Coles Strawberry

Food science at its best

Most of us really enjoy creamy foods, so it’s not surprising that food scientists have studied what creamy really means – and it turns out to be far from simple.

  • As consumers we experience creaminess as a range of sensations that give a full and sweet taste that’s smooth and velvety.
  • You’d reasonably expect the amount of fat in the food to be an important factor, and the science confirms this is indeed true.
  • But fortunately for those of us watching our weight, the fat’s not the whole story. It turns out that the thickness, or viscosity, of food is also an important factor in making it taste creamy. Some starches and food gums can have an even bigger impact on the creaminess of the taste than extra fat.
  • And some flavours, such as vanilla, can also improve the sensation of creaminess.

Almost all the premium yoghurts in our test contain additives designed to make them taste creamier, as well as colours and flavours. The only one that doesn’t, King Island Dairy Vanilla Bean Yoghurt, has the highest level of fat as well as creaminess-boosting vanilla flavour.

The additive used by most brands is chemically modified tapioca starch – hydroxypropyl distarch phosphate (1442). Others you might see on labels are:

  • Locust bean gum (410, extracted from seeds of the carob tree).
  • Guar gum (412, from the seed of the guar plant that grows in India and Pakistan).
  • Xanthan gum (415, a sticky substance made by a species of bacteria).

You’ll often also see gelatine listed among the ingredients; it’s added to help prevent separation of watery liquid that can form an unattractive puddle on top of the yoghurt. (Vegetarians should check the labels as gelatine is an animal product.)

These additives are used in many processed foods, but are added only in very small amounts and there are no safety issues. Unfortunately, however, despite all the research, combining the additives in just the right amounts to get a really creamy texture is still more of an art than a science. We found some big differences in creaminess between yoghurts using the same additives – some manufacturers must have better research and development labs than others.

 
 

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These products scored the best in our test:
What to buy
Brand Price*

Low fat and great taste

Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy Field Strawberries $0.64
Tamar Valley Premium Creamy Raspberry $1.11

Great taste, but not low fat

Dairy Bliss Spring Delights Deli Yoghurt Strawberry $0.96
Gippsland Dairy Raspberry Twist $1.21
King Island Dairy Vanilla Bean Yoghurt $1.24

Image of brands listed in What to buy table

Taste testers likes and dislikes

We asked 32 ordinary consumers, all CHOICE staff, to taste the yoghurts and rate them for creaminess and overall impression.

On average our tasters liked all the yoghurts, but there were some clear favourites (see table). And often price is a fair guide – overall the tasters preferred the more expensive brands.

The most popular were described as:

  • Thick and creamy.
  • Very fruity.

By contrast, brands the tasters didn't like as much were typically described as:

  • Thin texture.
  • A bit watery.
  • A touch bland.

Creamy without the cream

On average, the tasters preferred the yoghurts that tasted creamiest. Fortunately, however, yoghurt doesn't have to be loaded with fat to taste creamy. Three of the top five brands contain plenty of fat and deliver about 8% of your daily energy needs in one hit.

The other two, however, Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy Field Strawberries and Tamar Valley Premium Creamy Raspberry, are actually low in fat. Their manufacturers have used intelligent food science to give the impression of a rich and creamy yoghurt (see Food science at its best).

Full results of our taste test and nutritional information for each product are shown in the table below.

Premium yohurts results table

Using the table

Taste scores These are average scores from a group of 32 ordinary consumers (16 men and 16 women). They were asked to rate the yoghurts for creaminess and overall impression. Each taster rated four yoghurts and each yoghurt was tasted by nine or 10 people. The yoghurts were presented in plain containers identified only by letters and numbers so the tasters didn’t know the brands or types of yoghurt they were eating.

Nutrients These are based on information on the label. The manufacturers’ recommended serving sizes ranged from 100g to 200g, so for ease of comparison we give the amounts of energy, fat and sugar per 100g. (One teaspoon of sugar weighs 4g.)

Price Based on prices we paid in Sydney supermarkets in October 2008.

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