NEW YORK — Yogurt companies are looking to cultivate Americans’ taste for dairy.
The country’s top Greek yogurt maker, Chobani, is opening up its first ‘‘yogurt bar’’ in New York City on Wednesday as it looks to strengthen its position in a rapidly growing market. Dannon, a longtime industry giant, also opened up a shop in New York City earlier this month called The Yogurt Culture Company that serves both fresh Greek and traditional varieties.
The two companies say there are no plans yet for additional locations. But such flagship stores can add luster to a brand and help build loyal fan bases, which will be critical at a time when tastes are shifting and competition is intensifying.
US sales of Greek yogurt have more than doubled in the past five years to $1.6 billion, according to Euromonitor International. Last year, Greek yogurt accounted for about 21 percent of yogurt sales, up from 1.5 percent in 2006.
Unlike the thinner, more sugary yogurts that dominated US supermarket shelves for years, Greek yogurt has a thicker consistency because of the way it is strained. For many, a big part of the attraction is that it is also low in fat and high in protein.
Given its versatility in sweet and savory dishes, companies also see plenty of room for growth.
‘‘We want to open up the horizon for the way people look at yogurt in the US,’’ said Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani’s founder and chief executive officer. ‘‘When it comes to yogurt, America is underdeveloped.’’
At the Chobani store in Manhattan’s trendy Soho neighborhood, there are no make-it-yourself options, as with many frozen yogurt shops where customers can pile on toppings.
The menu will instead offer a set list of creations developed by Ulukaya, such as one that has chopped figs and walnuts with honey drizzled on top. Savory options — like yogurt with cucumbers or olive oil — are also available.
Orders are served in glass bowls, in single (6 ounces) or double (12 ounces) sizes for $3.75 or $4.75. Customers are given recipe cards with their orders, and can buy ingredients such as olive oil and fruits at the store. By encouraging customers to make such yogurt dishes on their own, the idea is to make the Chobani sold in supermarkets more of a household staple.