Chobani Expanding Its Battles On Multiple Fronts

Chobani, which has become the top-selling Greek yogurt brand in the U.S. and an U.S. Olympic team sponsor in less than a decade of existence, is on the move globally and is introducing a half-dozen products over the coming months with the intent of disrupting eating patterns in new dayparts. 

“Chobani Greek Yogurt Oats,” for example, “will be company's first product specifically designed to compete in the breakfast category,” CMO Peter McGuinness told the AP in one of several interviews he doled out for publication over the weekend. “He said the product will be positioned to compete with ‘bars, cereal and oatmeal’ rather than other yogurts” and that the oats “will be ‘al dente’ and not ‘mushy.’

Chobani is also venturing into desserts with Chobani Indulgent, which initially features real cream, dark chocolate and ripe fruits in three flavors: Dulce de Leche, Raspberry Dark Chocolate Chunk and Banana Dark Chocolate Chunk.

There will also be Chobani Kids, a high-protein snack with a “low sugar punch”; Chobani Seasonal, which kicks off in the summer with Watermelon and Pink Grapefruit flavors; new Key Lime and Pineapple Coconut offerings in the Chobani Simply 100 Greek Yogurt line and the introduction of 4% whole milk Chobani Kitchen.

The latter “inspires the chef in all of us” and is “perfect for baking or on top of a baked potato, chile and fajitas,” according to a Chobani blog item Friday. In the same post, Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya said his company was “just getting started.” 

Ulukaya, who was born in Turkey, bought a recently closed Kraft yogurt facility in upstate New York in 2005. “For the next two years, Hamdi focused on every step of the process. He carefully built his team, which included hiring a master yogurt maker to ensure quality from the ground up,” according to a website history that Ulukaya expands upon in a short YouTube video.

“We’ve always believed that if we can’t do something better, we won’t do it at all,” Ulukaya said in the post Friday. “With our new products and innovations, we are extending the way people enjoy Greek Yogurt in America and bringing better food to more people.” 

“The expansion comes as competition in Chobani's core business intensifies,” Annie Gasparro points out in the Wall Street Journal. “General Mill’s Yoplait brand is going hard after Chobani in television advertisements, first saying consumers preferred Yoplait's blueberry yogurt over Chobani's, and this week launching a strawberry yogurt campaign.” 

“Market share has dipped slightly in the last couple of years, but it still holds the top spot with about 38% of total Greek yogurt sales, according to data from market-research company Nielsen.” Gasparro reports.

Chobani has been testing new products at a cafe on Prince Street in Manhattan’s SoHo district that it opened in 2013, “where people come together to celebrate everything they love about Chobani.” It was remodeled and reopened with New York essentials such as a with a full espresso bar, with partner La Colombe Roasters, in February.

The company, which is based in New Berlin in Chenengo County, New York, also has plants in Twin Falls, Idaho, and Australia. CFO McGuinness told the [Idaho] Twin Falls Times-News’ Mychel Matthews that the new line will be produced at both facilities.

“Idaho is our second home,” he said. Chobani’s location in Twin Falls was “studied and chosen purposefully. There’s a good milk supply and good work ethic there. We are committed to the community, figuratively and literally.”

The company reportedly has been in talks with potential investors that could fuel its ambitious plans, as the New York Times’ William Alden reported late last month. Another option is taking the company public. “People familiar with the situation have said such a deal could value the company around $5 billion,” writes the WSJ’s Gasparro.

Chobani is not only expanding into new dayparts but also into new markets. Its announced last week that it is moving into “Panama, Singapore and Malaysia, with other Asian, Latin and Caribbean markets to follow,” Don Cazentre reported on Syracuse.com. 

“We've had tremendous success in the United States and Australia” — its only overseas market to date — “and we'll be using our manufacturing hubs to expand our global presence and reach new fans,” Chobani president and COO David Denholm said in a statement.

It will also be reaching new competitors. We’ll be watching avidly as the Greek yogurt wars churn.

Tags: food
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