The fastest-growing yogurt brand in the US, Siggi’s Icelandic-style skyr, is ultra creamy, low in sugar and contains 0% fat. To celebrate the yogurt’s launch in the UK, we caught up with founder, Siggi Hilmarsson, to find out more
What is skyr?
Skyr is a strained thick yoghurt that has been made for over 1,000 years in my home-country, Iceland. It’s traditionally made from skimmed milk so is naturally fat-free, but also high in protein. Also, it takes four times the amount of milk to make one cup of Siggi’s skyr, compared to regular yogurt.
Why did you start creating your own yogurt?
When I was growing up I ate a lot of skyr, so really missed it when I moved to America for grad school. I noticed that everything I ate when I first moved to the US had these long ingredients lists with flavourings, colourings and a lot of sugar. The food in general didn’t sit right with me, but it was the breakfast yoghurt that was really bad. The leading brand had the same amount of sugar per millilitre as a fizzy drink can! So after finishing school, I started making yogurt in my kitchen. The first few batches tasted horrible, but I got the hang of it after a while!
How to make Siggi’s guacamole
-Mix 1 pot of Siggi’s plain skyr with 2 mashed avocados, the juice of 1 lime, some roughly chopped coriander and a minced clove of garlic
-Season with ground black pepper to taste and serve with crudités at your next party
At the time, I was working a day job on Wall Street, which was not a good fit for me. I was worried about getting fired at any moment, but thought that there might be a business in my yogurt-making. I found a small dairy plant in upstate New York that I could rent and I would take days off work to make skyr. I met with one of my old university professors, who liked my yogurt and offered to be the first investor if I pursued it. Then I gave some of the skyr to a friend who worked at Murray’s Cheese shop in New York. I was just hoping for feedback, but instead she gave it to her buying committee who said they would stock it if I made it full-time. That was it; I had my first investor and my first customer: the ultimate encouragement.
How did Siggi’s become the fastest growing yogurt brand in America?
Business was slow for a while because back in 2006/2007 everyone was still worried about fat and people weren’t paying attention to sugar. We started selling in Wholefoods in 2008 and did well until 2012 when public attitude changed and suddenly sugar became public enemy number one. Everyone was talking about it and as a low-sugar product, we just took off. We went from health food stores to mass distribution in every major supermarket in America. And now we are bringing Siggi’s to the rest of the world and selling in the UK.
Try layering Siggi’s skyr with fruit, oats and seeds to make a nutritious breakfast jar
How do you like to eat Siggi’s skyr?
I still think you can eat it with anything, although the most traditional way is with cereal on top. It also tastes great mixed with fruit, but feel free to add in peanut butter, or walnuts, which are a good source of healthy fat.