Product Development

Greek Yogurt – PARTHENO

Bringing a new taste in yogurt to the Japanese consumer
Thick and creamy deliciousness made the traditional way
Greek Yogurt – PARTHENO

More of the original taste of yogurt
Challenge to become the first Greek yogurt in Japan*

Development of Greek Yogurt PARTHENO (hereafter PARTHENO) began in 2008. At that time, Greek yogurt was not well known in Japan, but it was already known overseas as a healthy food. After a boom in Europe in the late 1990s, consumption of Greek yogurt spread rapidly, mainly in the United States, particularly after the 2004 Athens Olympics. On the other hand, at that time, the Japanese yogurt market was dominated by fat-free and other products with health functions. There was little variation in taste and palatability. Our Greek yogurt development project began with a strong desire to create a new category in the Japanese yogurt market and deliver a new delicious taste experience.

*Source: In-house research using Mintel GNPD (August 2019)

A smooth texture and rich taste born from a tradition

Greek Yogurt – PARTHENO

Morinaga Milk was committed to offering a Greek yogurt made by replicating the traditional method. In Greece, which faces the Aegean Sea, families traditionally made their thick Greek yogurt by draining it through a cloth (muslin) bag to remove water and whey. Since we did not have the know-how to reproduce this particular traditional method on an industrial scale, we developed our own technology from scratch.

Our challenge was to create a product with the following characteristics: high protein, rich taste, and smoothness.
Another way to make high-protein yogurt is to simply mix milk with milk protein-enriched ingredients and ferment the milk protein-rich liquid. However, this method results in off-flavor and rough texture, which detracts from the unique taste of Greek yogurt. To satisfy our customers, we never want to compromise the deliciousness and smoothness of our products, so after examining various concentration technologies, we developed the current draining method that is essential to the making of PARTHENO.

To create PARTHENO, we drained the water after fermenting the yogurt in order to balance the protein and minerals achieving a clean taste with no off-flavors. This process also gave us a product with densely packed particles, rich texture, luster, and smoothness.

Greek Yogurt – PARTHENO

graph graph

However, we were unable to achieve the desired full-bodied taste and smoothness we wanted for PARTHENO only by using the concentration technology in our draining method. Complicated factors such as the selection of raw materials, the composition, the state of the yogurt before concentration, and the degree of desired concentration had to be carefully monitored and verified. By exploring various conditions and making numerous prototypes, we arrived at the taste and texture of the PARTHENO we offer to customers today.

Experiencing a taste of Greece at home
Proposing combination of Yogurt & Honey

We also take care to ensure that the container for PARTHENO adequately protects the product as exposure to light will oxidize the milk, resulting in a loss of flavor. In order to allow customers to enjoy Greek yogurt without sacrificing any of its deliciousness, our in-house packaging development team collaborated with a packaging material manufacturer to develop a new unique container for PARTHENO - a cup with light-shielding properties.

In addition, we wanted our customers to enjoy the combination of Greek yogurt and honey as is the custom in Greece. Therefore, we made the decision to offer honey with PARTHENO. Now everyone can enjoy the original taste of yogurt along with delicious honey. The rich taste of Greek yogurt together with the aroma and sweetness of honey harmonize to offer a taste treat that has never been seen before in Japanese yogurt.

In September 2011, PARTENO was finally released in Japan. As it was Japan's first* domestically produced Greek yogurt, many customers were surprised when it went on sale. In particular, when compared with regular plain yogurt, PARTHENO stands out for its cream cheese-like richness and fresh cream-like smooth texture. In our advertising, we showed that even when the yogurt was scooped up in a spoon and turned upside down, the yogurt does not fall from the spoon. This conveyed to the customer that PARTHENO is truly a new yogurt different from the conventional yogurts on the market

*In-house research using Mintel GNPD (August 2019)

Comparision of PARTHENO and handmade greek yogurt when thinly spread

Comparision of PARTHENO and handmade greek yogurt when thinly spread

It can be seen that the PARTHENO on the right has a glossier and smoother texture than handmade greek yogurt.