Three Happy Cows got its humble start as a drinkable yogurt operation in Dallas, but as Taco Bell’s first Greek yogurt supplier, the boutique brand is making its foray into quick-service dining with a bang. Should the Mexican-inspired chain’s test of its new Greek yogurt parfait, which is part of the Power Breakfast platform, perform well, Three Happy Cows could see its vanilla bean Greek yogurt available in more than 5,700 quick-serve restaurants across the U.S.
“We had limited distribution in farmers markets and mom-and-pop stores,” says Brian Twomey, marketing director at Three Happy Cows, of the brand’s beginnings. “In 2012, we entered the American Cheese Society’s contest, and we won that year for best-tasting Greek flavored yogurt. That was a catalyst for us.”
Twomey says that win got Three Happy Cows in a popular full-service chain in the Dallas area and in more grocery stores like The Fresh Market, but the Taco Bell deal will expand its footprint significantly. That a Mexican-inspired fast-food restaurant is expanding its menu to include Greek yogurt is proof of the multiplying consumer demand, he adds.
“We’ve all seen the growth of Greek yogurt; it’s been pretty amazing starting since about 2007,” Twomey says. “It’s representative of the shift in the population as more people look for more ‘real’ foods that also have really high protein and not a lot of sugar. Taco Bell … is all about now providing those choices to their consumers because that’s where consumers are going.”
Taco Bell’s Greek yogurt offering is made with Three Happy Cows’ vanilla bean flavor. Restaurant executives also had the chance to try other flavors, including caramel, strawberry, and blueberry, and there is potential to include those in future offerings, Twomey says.
Beyond Taco Bell, Three Happy Cows has gotten attention from foodservice operators looking to Greek yogurt as a substitute “for ingredients that could be considered a little bit less healthful, such as mayonnaise or cream cheese,” he says.
Consumers are voting with their dollars for Greek yogurt over regular yogurt, and Twomey expects restaurants will find new ways to incorporate the offering in new dayparts and through new applications.
“We’re looking to expand with [quick-serve] brands that have similar goals: wanting to provide real food,” he says. “We want to go and grow with brands that are trying to align with people’s lives, not just be a part of their meal.”
By Tamara Omazic