More 보다 100,000 French dairy farmers couldn’t go wrong as soon as they banded with each other in 1964 to produce the dairy cooperative that just a year later on would end up being Yoplait.

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At the time, the farmers from six local dairy co-ops were eager to sell their wide range of products including yogurt ~ above a national level in France. They knew they would have a far better chance to attain this goal through the creation of Sociéte de Diffusion de Marque, likewise known together Sodima.

Yogurt was key, and the co-op leader knew so at a official meeting throughout the early on stages of your partnership. They shared their long-term objectives in the parlor of Paris’ well known Hotel Lutetia.

“We had actually foreknowledge of the market,” said Andre Gaillard, Sodima president at the time. “We firmly believe that yogurt is a product of the future, the crucial food for future generations.”

Boy, to be they right. As Yoplait has end up being one the the world’s most renowned yogurts. Its products are now easily accessible in an ext than 70 countries with that largest industries being France, the U.S., the joined Kingdom, Mexico, Australia and Israel.

The Yoplait name emerged in 1965 once the French dairy farmers from those 6 co-ops to reduce their very own respective brands, and also came up through a moniker acquired from the contraction of 2 of Sodima’s an ext recognizable member co-ops – Yola and Coplait.


Yoplait’s cow

Yoplait officially introduced on Sept. 25, 1965 in Paris, relying on two logos the temporarily co-existed. The six-petal flower – which shed a petal in 2009 – is the one most world equate v Yoplait, as each petal stood for the six starting co-ops.

But the other logo design was a bizarre image.

Yoplait additionally had Michonnette, a cow offered in publish advertisements. Lying in the meadow with milk streaming from she udders and also into empty cup of Yoplait that she held in her hooves, Michonnette was a sight to behold.


The creation of renowned French poster artist Raymond Savignac, Michonnette (pronounced “mi-show-net”), confused some people and also received a combined reception native Sodima co-op members.

Robert Commandeur, previous Sodima supervisory board president remembered: “We had to overcome the reluctance of producers that said, ‘You space crazy to current things favor this, a cow v paws upwards! Well, if this is to market our milk …’”

A genuine life version of Michonnette showed up at Yoplait’s grand launch party. The plan was to have actually the cow on the sixth floor of the company’s Paris declaring agency, whereby the celebration was held. However due to protection reasons, Michonnette couldn’t do the trip. Instead, the cow continued to be in the lobby to greet guests.

Michonnette was a pioneer bovine because she to be the very first cow Yoplait supplied in its advertising scheme. Today, Yoplait continues to count on cows to encourage the rich, totality milk supplied to make its yogurt.

From France come Michigan

Yoplait’s first products to be plain-flavored yogurt and also cream. Yet by 1967, the firm produced its first fruit-flavored yogurts.

The mystery of Yoplait can not be consisted of by the French because that long, though.

By 1969, Switzerland ended up being the an initial country external of France to market Yoplait v the brand’s very first franchising agreement. Then, in 1971, Yoplait overcome the Atlantic and also found its way onto store shelves in the U.S. And in the Canadian district of Quebec.

However, it take it the marketing savvy of a small U.S. That company leader to increase Yoplait in phibìc America.

In 1974, Michigan cottage Cheese Co., led by william S. Bennet, got the U.S. Licensing rights to make and also market Yoplait in the U.S.


It take it the Otsego, Michigan-based agency a little more than a year to acquire Americans ready for Yoplait by installation the yogurt-making and also packaging infrastructure at its plant in Reed City, Mich., and devise marketing and also advertising programs.

In September 1975, the plant started test runs and the very first container the Yoplait yogurt rolled turn off the line. Through January 1976, Michigan head Cheese launched Yoplait commodities full scale.

General Mills and also Yoplait team up in 1977

General Mills’ ties with Yoplait began in October 1977 when we signed a franchise agreement with Sodima, offering us the exclusive legal rights to sector the brand in the U.S. But prior come the agreement, it took at least two years for united state to get to the point.

In 1975, Steve Rothschild, a general Mills executive vice president, to be tasked with experimenting the feasibility of yogurt together a new product for our company. He investigated a variety of products as much away together Hamburg, Germany, prior to Yoplait recorded his eye.

“One work I experienced Yoplait ~ above a grocery store shelf in Minneapolis, so ns took it to our corporate expansion department, and I said, ‘Can you tell me anything around this?’ within a week us were in Michigan,” the said.

Rothschild was referring to Michigan head Cheese Co. Once the basic Mills team identified yogurt might be a lucrative endeavor, the secured the U.S. Rights for Yoplait.

And together with the Yoplait marketing rights, general Mills also acquired the Reed City yogurt tree from Michigan head Cheese Co. Today, Yoplait yogurt proceeds to it is in made there as well as at other U.S. Plants.

Yoplait USA shortly was established by basic Mills. Within a couple of months, the brand captured 20 percent that the U.S. Yogurt sector thanks to a campaign that focused on the brand’s French origins.

As chairman of Yoplait USA indigenous 1977-1983, Rothschild recognized the French worth of Yoplait and also his team released a marketing campaign in 1979 reflecting American celebrities of the time speaking French.


For example, Yoplait rental actors Jack Klugman and Loretta Swit, and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda to promote the innovative French-ness the Yoplait.

A similar campaign arrived in 1981, note what happens as soon as a “real American” make the efforts Yoplait yogurt. The pitchmen contained comic piece detective prick Tracy.

Also, product placement of species in at the very least one movie may have actually raised the Yoplait’s profile. In the summer that 1983, box-office stop “Mr. Mom,” actor Michael Keaton dram poker making use of coupons for Yoplait yogurt.


By 1990, Sodima readjusted its surname to Sodiaal – Sociéte de Diffusion Internationale Agroalimentaire, and worldwide growth because that Yoplait continued.

Along the way, Sodiaal gained one more partner for Yoplait. In January 2002, the co-op sold a 50 percent stake in the agency to exclusive equity certain PAI Partners, a department of France-based banking huge BNP Paribas.

And that ultimately led to general Mills’ salvation of a majority stake in Yoplait in July 2011. Us purchased a 51 percent stake – PAI Partners’ entire share and also a 1 percent share indigenous Sodiaal.

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The business move would certainly play well with our intent to advice Yoplait’s growth into occurring countries such as China. And also it involved fruition in June the this year when Yoplait debuted in China.


Editor’s note: watch for an ext posts in our “Origin Stories” series in ours History category. 

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