We love yogurt! But given the vast range of the yogurt aisle in supermarkets it is hard to make sure you get your money’s worth. This guide will make your next search for quality yogurt – in yogurt jargon – plain vanilla.
Natural Yogurt doesn’t contain artificial ingredients or preservatives. Ingredients are only minimally processed. Natural Yogurt is commonly confused with “plain” Yogurt. Prices of yogurt: Cow’s milk: 0.06 – 0.37 USD/oz | Goat’s & sheep’s milk: 0.17 – 0.48 USD/oz | Plant-based: 0.17 – 0.77 USD/oz
Let’s look at different types and quality aspects of yogurt and compare their prices.
1. What Is Natural Yogurt?
Yogurt is a dairy product made by fermenting milk with a yogurt culture.
While Yogurt is a natural product in the sense that it is made of ingredients nature provides us with, the label “natural” is also defined by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture):
Food labeled “natural”, according to the USDA definition, does not contain artificial ingredients or preservatives and the ingredients are only minimally processed. However, they may contain antibiotics, growth hormones, and other similar chemicals.
The definition for “Natural” and “All-Natural” are identical.
Some people might refer to plain yogurt when they say natural yogurt. Natural yogurt is frequently confused with plain yogurt.
Although all yogurts start out as plain yogurt, most yogurt contains a variety of added ingredients, such as artificial flavors, dyes, stabilizers, preservatives and sugar.
Added-sugar in yogurt might also be masked as sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, fruit juice, cane sugar, saccharose or agave nectar.
In fact, the University of California came up with a list of 61 names of sugar commonly used in our food.
When possible, try to choose a yogurt with few ingredients. Ideally, yogurt should include only milk and bacterial cultures. Nothing else.
Less Is More. When choosing yogurt, keeping it healthy means keeping it simple. Plain and unsweetened yogurt is best.
Conclusion: “Natural yogurt” does not contain artificial ingredients or preservatives and the ingredients are only minimally processed.
2. The Healthy Bacteria in Yogurt
The main (starter) cultures in yogurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.
Starter cultures ferment lactose (milk sugar) to produce lactic acid.
This causes the milk to clot, or form the soft gel that is characteristic of yogurt.
The fermentation of lactose also produces the flavor compounds that are characteristic of yogurt.
Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are the only two cultures required by law to be present in yogurt.
You might find other bacterial cultures on your yogurt label such as: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus subsp. casei, and Bifido-bacteria.
Research on probiotics suggest that they help:
- Alleviate symptoms of lactose intolerance 
- Stimulate the immune system 
- Significantly reduce symptoms of depression 
- Reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children and adults ; 
- Improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome 
- Help lower cholesterol levels associated with cardiovascular disease 
- Significantly improve bowel regularity in women 
You may use the National Yogurt Association’s Seal (NYA)“Live and Active Cultures” as additional guidance when shopping for yogurt.
Products with the seal contain 100 million bacterial cultures per gram.
3. Types Of Yogurt
Unstrained Yogurt: This kind of yogurt tends to be thinner than for example Greek yogurts. It hasn’t been strained and has more liquid content.
Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt has a thick consistency and twice the protein than unstrained yogurt. Watch out for “Greek Style” Yogurt which often uses added thickeners to fake the original Greek Yogurt texture.
Skyr: Skyr is Iceland’s version of yogurt and is made with milk and live active cultures. It is strained 4 times which makes it the thickest in consistency. Traditionally it’s made from skim milk. It is even higher in protein than greek yogurt.
Goat Milk Yogurt: This yogurt usually has a higher fat content. This is what gives it the smooth and creamy texture. However, as in goat cheese, the taste can turn some people away.
Sheep’s Milk Yogurt: Similar to goat’s milk yogurt, sheep’s milk yogurt has a higher fat content than regular cow’s milk yogurts. It is the go-to option for people who look for a normal taste and texture but don’t react well to cow’s milk.
Soy Yogurt: It is made with a soy milk base made from soybeans and live cultures. It’s dairy-free and a go-to for yogurt lovers staying away from animal protein. It can be challenging finding products that are unsweetened and come without added thickeners.
Almond Yogurt: By combining almond milk, and live and active cultures, almond yogurt is created. Almond yogurt is a dairy-free yogurt and a great option if you are looking for a lactose-free yogurt. As with soy yogurt, it is hard to find a brand that has no thickeners and sugar even in their plain version.
Cashew Yogurt: Another plant-based option that has a creamy texture and a delicate flavor. Cashew Yogurt is one of the few vegan, dairy-free yogurts where finding clean, no sugar-added versions is easy!
Coconut Yogurt: Coconut milk combined with live cultures makes coconut yogurt. Another dairy-free version that is usually vegan-friendly. However, it is hard to find products without added sugars.
Kefir: Kefir is a cultured, fermented beverage. It’s made using “starter” grains. This starter is a combination of yeasts, milk proteins, and bacteria. It has a tart, creamy flavor, and it’s loaded with probiotics. Make sure to look for options without added sugars.
Buttermilk: Buttermilk is very similar to yogurt. Traditional buttermilk is the liquid that’s have left over after making butter. As yogurt, it is a good source or probiotics as well.
4. Natural Yogurt Brands
While almost all yogurt brands offer natural, plain yogurt, the true secret to finding high quality yogurt is to look for three specific labels.
1. The USDA Organic seal
Among others, the key benefits of buying organic yogurt:
Grass-fed milk is significantly higher in healthy Omega-3’s. 
Be aware, that a non-organic product with only the grass-fed label does not limit the use of antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides.
Therefore, high quality yogurt is both, grass-fed and organic.
3. NYA Seal “Live and Active Cultures”
Products with this seal contain 100 million bacterial cultures per gram, which is a great indicator of an excellent probiotic profile.
5. The Fat Content Of Yogurt
Yogurt can be made from whole, low-fat or fat-free milk.
Whole milk yogurt must contain not less than 3.25% milk fat, low-fat yogurt not more than 2% milk fat, and nonfat yogurt less than 0.5% milk.
Health experts often recommend low-fat dairy products because most people already eat more calories than they need.
However, reduced-fat yogurts typically contain the most sugar, which is added to compensate for the loss of flavor from fat.
So if you choose low-fat yogurt, be sure to look for one without added sugar.
In fact, when choosing the right quality of grass-fed and organic yogurt, the fat in whole milk yogurt with its healthy Omega-3’s benefits your health in many ways.
6. Prices Of Yogurt
|Types of Yogurt||Conventional / Regular||Organic|
|Unstrained Yogurt||0.06 USD / oz.||0.10 USD / oz.|
|Greek Yogurt||0.12 USD / oz.||0.17 USD / oz.|
|Skyr||0.19 USD / oz.||0.37 USD / oz.|
|Goat’s Milk Yogurt||0.17 USD / oz.||We tried – But couldn‘t find any|
|Sheep’s Milk Yogurt||0.48 USD / oz.||We tried – But couldn‘t find any|
|Soy Yogurt||0.17 USD / oz.||0.24 USD / oz.|
|Almond Yogurt||0.19 USD / oz.||We tried – But couldn‘t find any|
|Cashew Yogurt||0.37 USD / oz.||0.31 USD / oz.|
|Coconut Yogurt||0.24 USD / oz.||0.77 USD / oz.|
|Kefir||0.09 USD / oz.||0.11 USD / oz.|
|Buttermilk||0.10 USD / oz.||0.35 USD / oz.|
Prices in different States may vary.
Conclusion: The price for yogurt made from cow’s milk ranges between 0.06 – 0.37 USD / oz. Goat’s and sheep’s milk yogurt cost between 0.17 – 0.48 USD / oz. Plant-based, vegan yogurts are most expensive with prices between 0.17 – 0.77 USD / oz.