Cream of the Crop:
Smári Organics is Using a Thousand Year Old Yogurt to Revolutionize Healthy Eating
Yogurt may have originated as a way of preserving milk, but today its appeal is about fast, easy nutrition. Packed with protein and calcium, the cultured dairy product is big business, with Euromonitor recently estimating the 2014 US yogurt market to be over $8 billion and growing.
But not all brands are alike. Smári Organics has tackled the industry from a unique perspective: Their goal is to make it easier for families to eat healthy. With that in mind their product is low in sugar and high in protein — 20 grams in a single cup. Smári Organics’ founder, Smári Ásmundsson, didn’t begin to look closely at nutrition labels until his son was born in 2008. “I started noticing the food marketed to kids,” says Ásmundsson. “It was all sugary crap.”
Once a photographer in advertising, Ásmundsson started to think about the snacks he grew up with, including skyr, a strained yogurt that’s been made in Iceland for over a thousand years. “I just wanted to feel good about what I was feeding my son every day,” Ásmundsson says. Skyr was the closest thing he had to fast food as a child — after all it was an instant, no-cooking-required snack — and it was what he missed most about his home. So he teamed up with a master skyr maker (a family friend from Egilsstaðir near the eastern shores of Iceland) to create the perfect, scalable recipe for the new brand.
Skyr is a unique yogurt — the easiest way to describe it is to compare it to Greek yogurt, though yogurt makers will tell you there are big differences between the two styles. Skyr is thicker, creamier, and fluffier than Greek yogurt, and takes anywhere from 50% to 100% more milk to make a single cup, resulting in the highest protein content in any yogurt in the market today.
Less than a decade after Smári’s idea to bring Icelandic yogurt to the US, Smári Organic is in natural food stores across the country, and growing fast.