Kraft discontinues Athenos Greek yogurt

Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:27pm EDT

(Reuters) - Kraft Foods Inc KFT.N is discontinuing its Athenos line of Greek yogurt, the company said on Thursday, exiting the fast-growing U.S. Greek yogurt market.

Athenos, which also makes feta cheese, hummus and pita chips, discontinued the yogurt in March.

"Although we had a loyal following of Athenos Greek yogurt fans, we have decided to refocus our efforts on innovating new products for the Athenos brand," a Kraft spokesman said in a statement. "We know that this is very disappointing to consumers, and it was an extremely difficult decision for us to make."

Sales of Greek yogurt, which is thicker and has more protein than other yogurt, have soared in the United States in the last few years. The market is dominated by privately held Agro Farma, whose Chobani brand has about a 60 percent share.

Danone (DANO.PA) is second with 17 percent, followed by Greece-based Fage, and Yoplait owner General Mills (GIS.N).

Kraft Foods is preparing to split into two companies -- one focused on snack brands like Cadbury, Oreo and Ritz and one focused on grocery brands like Oscar Mayer, Maxwell House and Planters.

(Reporting By Martinne Geller in New York;editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

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