What happened to all the soy yogurt?

You’re not crazy, there’s no soy yogurt anywhere. (Ok, almost none, in the US.)

I was entirely unaware of this until I needed some for baking a few weeks ago.

No problem, I’ve found soy yogurt in grocery stores nearby whenever I’ve needed it. First store — no soy yogurt. Second store — same. At a third store, I asked a clerk for help, certain I must have missed it. After some searching, he hands me almond yogurt. “Look — it says soy free.” I explain that I’m looking for the opposite — “full of soy”.

Finally I went to a fourth store, where I’m certain I’ve bought soy yogurt in the past. Still nothing. The clerk there told me that there’s a national shortage — “You can’t get it anywhere. There was only one factory in the US, and it’s been shut down.”

I bought some almond yogurt and used that instead, but I was curious how this could have happened.

Here’s what I’ve found out:

WholeSoy & Co explains that the facility that makes and packages their yogurt (a “co-packer” in industry terms) abruptly shut down, giving them only three days notice. They had been in the process of switching to another co-packer, and shipped some yogurt from the new facility, but ran into some problems, and the new facility may not be able to keep up with demand once it’s operational anyway.

They are now working on building their own facility, and hope to be back in production in the fall.

I can’t confirm what I was told — that all soy yogurt in the US was made by one facility.

It seems that Silk only currently manufactures soy yogurts with fruit, which are unsuitable for baking. It’s not clear to me if the supply chain for those products has been affected.

I’ve found at least one other vegan yogurt that has a very similar story to WholeSoy. Amande, an almond yogurt brand, explains that their producer informed them in April that they were shutting down, again with just 3 days notice. It seems likely that this was the same facility that WholeSoy was using.

There also seem to be very few soy yogurt producers, as many brands have recently discontinued their soy yogurt products.

Wildwood discontinued its soy yogurts between December 2012 and March 2013. No supply chain issues are cited in emails from the company.

So Delicious no longer lists soy yogurt on its products page, so these also seem to be discontinued.

Trader Joe’s brand soy yogurt has allegedly been affected by the shortage. I can’t confirm that their soy yogurt is a rebranding of WholeSoy yogurt, however the nutrition data for “Trader Joe’s Organic Vanilla Soy Yogurt” is identical to that of WholeSoy’s vanilla flavor. The plain flavor is not described as being organic, which I would think rules out WholeSoy as a producer.

It seems to be coincidence that the factory closure follows a period of consolidation of the soy yogurt market, where many brands of soy yogurt were discontinued, and mainstream non-dairy yogurt brands abandoned soy in favor of almond and coconut yogurt, leaving us without a soy yogurt supplier for the time being.

Strange times in the world of soy yogurt. For more, see the following links:

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9 thoughts on “What happened to all the soy yogurt?

  1. Pingback: Is Benecol vegan? | Ed v. Food

  2. Paula

    No more soy yogurt producers in the US? Great. We’re now officially a third-world country. This is so ridiculous that the US can’t keep up with demand for decent alternatives to milk products. (Me thinks a dairy industry conspiracy’s afoot.) What’s worse is all the lame and inaccurate excuses coming from the grocery stores that used to stock Silk’s soy yogurt – the BEST of all the alternative soy yogurt brands, IMHO.

    Reply
  3. Ria

    Thank you for posting this, and for the helpful links. I was out of my mind, thinking it can’t be possible for all yogurt to disappear like this. I can’t stand coconut/almond/rice yogurt and have stopped buying Turtle Mountain products (So Delicious) because they discontinued all their best ice creams in favor of artificial sweeteners, nut/coconut milks, and smaller sizes. Having to give up ice cream was bad enough, yogurt as well is killing me. Trader Joe’s brand was the best and no one at my local store told me anything about a shortage; I had to google it. I hope they are back up and running ASAP! I also hope the industry learns from this example and takes steps to prevent it from happening again. I hope Trader Joes gets their own factory, and other companies like Daiya have backup plans in case a factory goes down.

    Reply
  4. edpizzi Post author

    Just to update here — the latest from WholeSoy is that Whole Foods stepped in with a $400k loan to help them get up and running again. They don’t give an ETA, which may be just as well, since they’ve had bad luck keeping on track with their ETA’s, but they say that they’ll have more updates in a few weeks.

    However I’m starting to see some plain soy yogurts in the wild. Traveling on the east coast I came across a plain soy yogurt at Whole Foods, but I don’t remember the brand.

    Also, at some point during the soy yogurt drought, I picked up a Stonyfield O’Soy yogurt, which is … not vegan. (Super unclear labeling!) It contains milk, so it’s also not appropriate for omnivores with milk allergies. The label should read: “Probably not what you’re looking for”. Or just: “Nope.”

    Reply
    1. gigi

      The label should read: “Probably not what you’re looking for”. Or just: “Nope.”
      haha!
      Glad to see I’m not the only one going out of her mind looking for this stuff. The only soy yogurt I could abide was the Trader Joe’s Vanilla (thought I never heard of or saw WholeSOy, so maybe I’d have liked that too) and I have been totally yogurt-less since I don’t even know when. I recently switched to Zen brand chocolate pudding for when I have a hankering for something sweet and creamy to put on a dish of fruit.
      Thanks for all the info in the OP and in the replies!

      Reply
      1. Ed Post author

        I’ve just recently seen Nancy’s Cultured Soy, which has a plain version, at Whole Foods, so maybe the sit yogurt drought is ending.

  5. K Stordeur

    I am so happy to find this post. I thought I was going crazy! I always bought the big containers of Silk vanilla and plain using them for smoothies and the plain as a sour cream substitute as our family is dairy free. January 2012, when Publix no longer stocked the item the store employee who worked the dairy dept. was just as stunned as I to learn it had been discontinued. They said it was a popular product and a good seller to check back, they would probably restock it. I’ve seen it disappear since from Whole Foods and everywhere else. It’s been about a year and still, no avail!

    Reply
  6. ManhattanTransfer

    The Silk Fruity & Creamy soy yogurt is the best option out there, but not widely distributed yet. In the past, Silk soy yogurt was not very good – like thick sweet soy milk, emphasis on the sugar. Wholesoy was the best, particularly their unsweeted plain. About 1 1/2 years ago White Wave (parent of Silk) bought European soy company Alpro. Alpro makes an awesome, widely distributed soy yogurt in the Netherlands and Belgium, we always went nuts on the Alpro when we visited Amsterdam. Alpro’s peach mango flavor is particularly awesome. Fast forward to a few months ago, after Wholesoy, TJs, original-formula Silk and most other brands of soy yogurt had disappeared from the shelves, Silk introduced its Fruity & Creamy soy yogurt, and guess what: the peach mango flavor is a clone of the Alpro European soy yogurt we had in the Netherlands. I presume Silk imported the Alpro recipe/process to the USA. The Silk Fruity & Cream is on the sweet side, but great texture and much tastier than the Nancy’s (just awful) or the Stonyfield O’soy (too sweet, sort of like the original, discontinued Silk soy yogurt recipe that was discontinued when all the other soy yogurts disappeared). I have written Silk to tell them I like their product and asked them (1) to ramp up production ASAP so they can distribute their product more widely and (2) to sell an unsweetened or at least low-sugar plain variety. They wrote back to say, basically, we’re glad you like our product, but no details on future product plans.
    BTW, the regular single-serving size Stonyfield O’soy containers now have a vegan certification on them, the small kid’s size o’soys still say they use a milk-based culture. As I said, I don’t care for the O’Soy product, but if you are looking for a vegan soy yogurt it is an option.

    Reply

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