Chobani

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Chobani LLC
Private
IndustryFood processing
FoundedMarch 2005; 13 years ago (2005-03) (as Agro Farma)
South Edmeston, New York, U.S.
FounderHamdi Ulukaya
HeadquartersNorwich, New York, U.S.
Key people
Hamdi Ulukaya, founder & CEO
Number of employees
2,000+ (2018)[1]
Websitechobani.com

Chobani is an American dairy processor specializing in strained yogurt. The company was founded in 2005 when Hamdi Ulukaya[2][3] bought a plant in the town of South Edmeston, New York,[4] that was being closed by Kraft Foods. Ulukaya hired several of the former Kraft employees as well as a "yogurt master" and launched his brand in 2007.[5] Chobani sells thick, Greek-style yogurt with a higher protein content than traditional yogurt and is among one of the main companies to popularize this style of yogurt.[6] The company promotes its products as health food.[7] Chobani is the top-selling Greek yogurt brand in America and operates the largest yogurt facility in the world. Its products include a variety of Greek, or strained, yogurts, drinks, flip snacks and a smooth (non-Greek) yogurt.[8]

History[edit]

Chobani was founded in 2005 by Hamdi Ulukaya. He chose the name Chobani as a variation of the Turkish word çoban, itself derived from Persian čupân چوپانmeaning "shepherd." [9][10][11]

Chobani was inspired by Ulukaya’s childhood raising sheep and goats and making cheese with his family. Not impressed by the yogurt options available in the United States, Ulukaya made strained yogurt at his home in Upstate NY. [12] In 2005, after seeing an ad for a former Kraft Foods yogurt plant for sale in South Edmeston, New York, Ulukaya bought it with a Small Business Administration Loan.[13] He launched the strained yogurt business with the help of a handful of the plant's former employees. His goal was to provide Americans with a more authentic, nutritious and accessible yogurt.[12] In less than five years after launch, Chobani realized over $1 billion in annual sales and became the leading seller of Greek yogurt in America.[14] [15]

In November 2011, Chobani expanded into New South Wales, Australia through the purchase of Victorian dairy company Bead Foods. It then invested $30m to expand the facility and began manufacturing from the Dandenong South plant in December 2012.[16]

In 2012, Chobani became an official sponsor of the US Olympic Team[17] and premiered their first national commercial during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.[18]

In 2012 the brand opened its second plant in what became the world’s largest yogurt facility in Twin Falls, Idaho, with an initial investment of $750 million. The move created approximately 7,000 jobs, and unemployment rates in the region dropped from 6.3% to 2.4%.[19]

Chobani also opened its first brick-and-mortar cafe in SoHo, NYC in July 2012.[20] [21] [22]

in 2013 Chobani was ordered to change their yogurt's labeling in England and Wales after a judge ruled that the wording "Greek yoghurt" (rather than Greek-style) misled consumers into thinking the yogurt was made in Greece (yogurt imported from Greece is sold in Britain, and is the only type sold as "Greek").[23][24]

On September 3, 2013, Chobani pulled some of its Greek-style yogurt from supermarket shelves after hearing of "swelling or bloating" in cups. The company said it has investigated and found a type of mold commonly found in dairy that may be to blame.[25] Chobani announced a voluntary recall on September 5 in cooperation with the FDA.[26] On September 9, 2013, the FDA reported at least 89 people have reported getting sick after eating the yogurt.[27]

The Twin Falls plant won the 2013 DBIA Design-Build Project of the Year award and the 2013 Food Plant of the Year award from Food Engineering magazine.[28]

In April 2016, CEO Hamdi Ulukaya announced that he would be giving Chobani employees 10% of the company's shares.[29] [30] In October 2016 the company announced it was implementing a program to give six weeks of paid parental leave to new parents.[31]

Chobani introduced its products into Mexico in August 2016. [32]

In 2017, Chobani surpassed Yoplait as the No. 2 manufacturer in overall yogurt.[33] That same year, the company introduced new packaging and a new brand identity as a “food focused wellness company.” [34] The company also announced a $20m expansion of the Twin Falls plant, with a 70,000 square-foot sustainable facility and a new global research and development center. [35]

When Chobani was launched, Greek yogurt made up less than 1% of the yogurt market in the US. As of 2017, Greek yogurt accounted for 50% of U.S. yogurt sales.[36]

In the spring of 2018, CEO Hamdi Ulukaya appeared on the Ellen Degeneres Show[37] and Good Morning America to announce that the company was celebrating its 10th anniversary as a national brand by giving a Chobani yogurt to every person in America.[38]

In August 2018, the company launched Chobani Savor, a brand for their yogurt-based condiment.[39]

Mission[edit]

Chobani states that its mission is to provide "better food to more people,"[40] and it identifies as a "food-focused wellness company." [41]

Community responsibility[edit]

Chobani Foundation[edit]

Since the founding of the company, Chobani has donated a portion of profits back into the communities where its employees live and work.[42] It’s charitable arm, the Chobani Foundation, was formed in 2010, and focuses on improving childhood nutrition,[43] strengthening the communities near its plants in New York and Idaho, [44][45][46] and supporting those in need after major disasters in the U.S.[47][48]

Chobani Incubator[edit]

Hamdi Ulukaya launched the Chobani Food Incubator in 2016 to support food entrepreneurs aiming to challenge the food industry, improve broken systems, and bring better food to more people.[49] The program provides food and beverage startups with a nonequity investment, resources, mentorship and programming.[50]

In 2018, the company announced the creation of the Chobani Incubator Food Tech Residency.[51]

Participants in the incubator program include: Banza, Misfit Juicery,[52] Chloe's Fruit, Pique Tea Crystals,[53] NOKA,[54] MatchaBar, Ithaca Cold-Crafted, and more.[55]

Chobani shares[edit]

In April 2016, Chobani announced it was giving 10 percent of its ownership stake to its employees.[56] The company allotted shares to its employees based on tenure, reportedly helping some of the company’s longest serving employees become millionaires.[57]

[edit]

Effective in 2017, Chobani implemented a new paid parental leave policy, offering 100% paid parental leave for six weeks for all full-time hourly and salaried employees that have completed at least 12 months of continuous employment. The program extends to both mothers and fathers for the birth, adoption, or placement of a foster child into the home.[58]

Awards and recognition[edit]

2018[edit]

  • Re-certified as a Great Place To Work.[59]
  • Recognized by People magazine as one of the top 50 companies that care.[60]
  • Honored by the Martin Luther King Jr. Center with the “Salute to Greatness” award.[61]

2017[edit]

  • Re-certified as a Great Place to Work.[62]
  • Recognized by Fatherly as one of the top 50 places to work for new dads.[63]
  • Recognized by Fast Company as one of the top 10 most innovative companies in the world and number one in both the Food and Social Good categories.[64]
  • Recognized by Fast Company as one of the 25 brands that matter now.[65]
  • Recognized by Fortune as one of the top 50 companies changing the world.[66]

2016[edit]

  • Certified as a Great Place To Work.[67]

Hiring refugees[edit]

In 2016, following reports on Chobani’s practice of employing refugees, the company received calls for boycotts and death threats. Approximately 30% of Chobani’s 2,000 employees are legally resettled refugees and immigrants.[68]

Alex Jones lawsuit[edit]

In April 2017, Chobani filed a defamation lawsuit in Idaho state court against Alex Jones following a number of allegations made on the InfoWars website.[69] As a result of the lawsuit, Jones issued an apology and retraction of his allegations on May 17, 2017.[70]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]