The World Has Waited Patiently and Now It's Here: Instant Yogurt
He has developed and patented a process in which white powder—a combination of a fermenting agent, fast-acting bacteria, dehydrated milk and fruit flavor—is mixed at room temperature with milk or water. The goo becomes yogurt in an hour. It's said to taste the same as store brands, but will cost about half as much per serving. Trop plans to market six flavors.
For months now, busloads of VIP visitors have been queuing up at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba, site of Professor Trop's laboratory, to taste his new product. Its 42-year-old inventor frankly admits to being "pretty tired" of it by now. Because he liked regular yogurt so much, he started thinking three years ago of a way to take it camping with him. Attempts to dehydrate yogurt until then had been a flop, but Trop persevered. On a trip to the U.S. he tried to sell his notion to some large food companies but "never got to speak to the top men." On his return home, the university agreed to fund his research in return for half the profits.
An Israeli firm has already bought worldwide rights to Trop's frozen yogurt formula, an outgrowth of his research. Now he is sorting through offers for his instant yogurt from food processors, including some who earlier turned him down. Trop believes his instant-mix concept could also be used for pizza, bread and cheese.
The son of a Tel Aviv rabbi, Trop received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Hebrew University and did research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. and at Rockefeller University. But wife Elisheva and their four children, now aged 8 to 17, felt uprooted in the U.S. A pious Jew who always wears a yarmulke, Trop says, "The tie to Israel brought us back sooner than we expected."
Though he may become an instant millionaire, Trop is modestly pessimistic. "Sixty percent of all Israelis," he laments, "detest yogurt in any form. My product will not do well here."