From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Chobani LLC
IndustryFood processing
FoundedMarch 2005; 15 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]

Chobani is an American food company 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 one of the main companies to popularize this style of yogurt.[6] The company also sells non-dairy, plant-based products. 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, yogurt cups, flips, drinks, and children's snacks, dairy-based coffee creamers, as well as plant-based products made with organic oats or coconut.[8]


Chobani was founded in 2005 by Turkish-Kurdish businessman Hamdi Ulukaya. He chose the name Chobani as a variation of the modern Turkish word çoban, from Ottoman Turkish چوبان : čobân; itself derived from Persian چوپان : čupân , which itself has a European language root from Alexander the great invasion as “Sheep ban”, meaning "shepherd."[9][10][11]

Chobani was inspired by Ulukaya's childhood spent raising sheep and goats and making cheese with his family.[12] Not impressed by the yogurt options available in the United States, Ulukaya made strained yogurt at his home in Upstate NY.[13] 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.[14] 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.[13] 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.[15][16]

In November 2011, Chobani expanded into Victoria, Australia through the purchase of Victorian dairy company Bead Foods.[17] It then invested $30m to expand the facility and began manufacturing from the Dandenong South plant in December 2012.[18]

In 2012, Chobani became an official sponsor of the US Olympic Team[19] and premiered their first national commercial during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.[20]

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%.[21]

Chobani also opened its first brick-and-mortar cafe in SoHo, NYC in July 2012.[22][23][24]

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").[25][26]

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.[27] Chobani announced a voluntary recall on September 5 in cooperation with the FDA.[28] On September 9, 2013, the FDA reported at least 89 people reported becoming sick after eating the yogurt.[29]

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.[30]

In April 2016, CEO Hamdi Ulukaya announced that he would be giving Chobani employees 10% of the company's shares.[31][32] In October 2016 the company announced it was implementing a program to give six weeks of paid parental leave to new parents.[33]

Chobani introduced its products into Mexico in August 2016.[34]

In 2017, Chobani surpassed Yoplait as the No. 2 manufacturer in overall yogurt.[35] That same year, the company introduced new packaging and a new brand identity as a “food-focused wellness company.” [36] The company also announced a $20 million expansion of the Twin Falls plant, with a 70,000 square-foot sustainable facility and a new global research and development center.[37]

When Chobani was launched, Greek yogurt made up less than 1% of the yogurt market in the U.S. As of 2017, Greek yogurt accounted for 50% of U.S. yogurt sales.[38]

In the spring of 2018, CEO Hamdi Ulukaya appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show[39] 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.[40]

In August 2018, the company launched Chobani Savor, a brand for their yogurt-based condiment.[41]

In November 2019, Chobani introduced plant-based beverages made with organic oats and Chobani Coffee Creamer, made with milk and cream that comes naturally from the company's yogurt-making process.[42]


Chobani states that its mission is to provide "better food to more people,"[43] and it identifies as a "food-focused wellness company." [44]

Community responsibility[edit]

Giving Back[edit]

Since the founding, Chobani has donated a portion of profits back into the communities where its employees live and work.[45][46] The company's philanthropy focuses on improving childhood nutrition,[47] strengthening the communities near its plants in New York and Idaho,[48][49][50] and supporting those in need after major disasters in the U.S.[51][52]

In November 2018, Chobani announced a new partnership with the national nonprofit Operation Homefront, with the aim of raising $1 million for America's military families. The funds will help in the delivery of critical financial assistance and support for military families across the nation. Chobani donated $500,000 and the company pledged to match up to $250,000 in additional donations facilitated by a new Chobani product called “Hero Batch” Red, White and Blueberry Greek yogurt. The new product was designed by military veterans at Chobani.[53]

In May 2019, CEO Ulukaya pledged to pay the student lunch debt for all Warwick school district students in Rhode Island and urged other companies to step up to fight food insecurity across the country.[54]

In October 2019, Chobani launched a limited edition product, Farmer Batch. For every four-pack sold, the company donated ten cents to the American Farmland Trust (AFT).[55]

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.[56] The program provides food and beverage startups with a nonequity investment, resources, mentorship and programming.[57]

In 2018, the company announced the creation of the Chobani Incubator Food Tech Residency.[58]

Participants in the incubator program include: Banza, Misfit Juicery,[59] Chloe's Fruit, Pique Tea Crystals,[60] NOKA,[61] MatchaBar, Ithaca Cold-Crafted, and more.[62]

In November 2019, the Chobani Incubator introduced its new Vets Cohort to help current and former armed service members who are also food entrepreneurs grow their business. The program was formed through a partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.[63]

Chobani shares[edit]

In April 2016, Chobani announced it was giving 10 percent of its ownership stake to its employees.[64] The company allotted shares to its employees based on tenure, reportedly helping some of the company's longest serving employees become millionaires.[65]


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.[66]

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.[67]

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.[68] As a result of the lawsuit, Jones issued an apology and retracted his allegations on May 17, 2017.[69]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Cultural revolution: The Greek-yogurt phenomenon in America left big food firms feeling sour. They are trying to get better at innovation". The Economist. 2013-08-31. Retrieved 2014-07-15.
  3. ^ Pendleton, Devon (2012-09-14). "Hidden Chobani Billionaire Emerges as Greek Yogurt Soars". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
  4. ^ "How rural Chenango County became Greek yogurt capital: The story behind Chobani yogurt". Retrieved 2017-08-03.
  5. ^ Prasso, Sheridan (29 November 2011). "Chobani: The unlikely king of yogurt". CNN Money. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  6. ^ Gasparro, Annie; Josephs, Leslie (19 December 2013). "Whole Foods To Stop Selling Chobani. same sex, lesbian yogurt commercial has led to boycott attempt by several family advocacy organizations Yogurt". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  7. ^ "There's No Science In Yogurt, Says Chobani". Slate. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Chobani Rolls Out Oat Milk, Oat Yogurt, and Dairy Creamers". Fortune. Retrieved 2020-01-20.
  9. ^ Rebecca Mead (November 4, 2013). "Just Add Sugar: how an immigrant from Turkey turned Greek yogurt into an American snack food". The New Yorker. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  10. ^ Bryan Gruley (February 4, 2013). "At Chobani, the Turkish King of Greek Yogurt". Bloomberg News. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  11. ^ ویکی, پارسی. "چوپان | پارسی ویکی". Retrieved 2017-06-10.
  12. ^ Brunner, Rob (2017-03-20). "How Chobani's Hamdi Ulukaya Is Winning America's Culture War". Fast Company. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  13. ^ a b "How Chobani's Hamdi Ulukaya Is Winning America's Culture War". Fast Company. 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  14. ^ "Chobani CEO: Our Success Has Nothing To Do With Yogurt". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  15. ^ "Who's Winning the Greek-Yogurt 'Revolution'?". Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  16. ^ "Trendy Greek Yogurt Chobani Is Officially The Top Selling Brand In America". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  17. ^ Ovide, Shira (2011-06-30). "Greek Yogurt Brand Chobani Makes a Deal". WSJ. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  18. ^ "Chobani yogurt plant opens in Dandenong - Magazine - Industry News - General - The Australian Dairyfarmer". Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  19. ^ Elliott, Stuart (14 June 2012). "Anything-but-Ordinary Mom Pitches for Chobani Yogurt". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
  20. ^ Bautista, Camille. "Chobani's first national TV ad to run during Olympic opening ceremonies". The Post-Standard. Retrieved 27 July 2012.
  21. ^ "Yogurt maker Chobani expanding in tiny town of Twin Falls, Idaho". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  22. ^ "Greek Yogurt Giant Chobani Is Opening Its First Shop In New York City". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  23. ^ "Chobani Yogurt Bar Makes Big Apple Debut". The Gourmet Retailer. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  24. ^ "Nothing But Good: Chobani Founder Hamdi Ulukaya Named Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2012 Overall Award Winner". Retrieved 18 November 2012.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ Andrew Trotman "Chobani misled UK shoppers into thinking yoghurt was made in Greece: The US maker of Chobani yoghurt has been ordered to change the product's labelling in England and Wales after a judge ruled it was misleading shoppers," The Telegraph (28 March 2013).
  26. ^ Julia Glotz "Fage scores victory against Chobani in Greek yoghurt case," The Grocer (28 March 2013).
  27. ^ "Chobani Pulls 'Fizzy,' 'Swelling' Yogurt Off Shelves". 3 September 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
  28. ^ Choi, Candice (5 September 2013). "Chobani recalls some Greek yogurt cups". USA Today. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  29. ^ "Chobani Yogurt Linked to 89 Reports of Illness". ABC News. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
  30. ^ Fichbach, Amy (February 2014). "Chobani Builds World's Largest Yogurt Plant". Electrical Construction and Maintenance. 113 (2): C6–C8. Retrieved 2014-03-09.
  31. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-04-27. Retrieved 2016-04-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  32. ^ "At Chobani, Now It's Not Just the Yogurt That's Rich". Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  33. ^ "Chobani to offer new moms and dads 6 weeks off at full pay". NBC News. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  34. ^ "Llega a México Chobani, la marca #1 de yogurt estilo griego en los Estados Unidos". PRNEWSWIRE. Mexico. 26 August 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  35. ^ Giammona, Craig (9 March 2017). "Why Big Brands Couldn't Stop Chobani From Winning the Yogurt War". Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  36. ^ "Why Chobani Is Reinventing Itself—and Why It Had No Choice". Retrieved 2018-10-28.
  37. ^ Staff, BF (2017-11-13). "Chobani Breaks Ground On Twin Falls, Idaho Expansion". Business Facilities - Area Economic Development, Site Selection & Workforce Solutions. Retrieved 2018-10-28.
  38. ^ "General Mills Loses the Yogurt Wars". Fortune. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  39. ^ "Ellen and The Chobani Foundation Make a Huge Donation to W M Irvin Elementary School!". 2018-02-16. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  40. ^ News, ABC. "Video: Chobani CEO discusses the company's campaign with No Kid Hungry on 'GMA'". ABC News. Retrieved 2018-11-11.
  41. ^ Siegner, Cathy (10 August 2018). "Chobani enters the condiment market". Food Dive. Industry Dive. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  42. ^ "Chobani debuts oat drinks, yogurts, seeks to disrupt dairy creamer category". Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  43. ^ "'Better Food for More People:' Chobani Incubator Seeking Purpose-Driven Food Startups". Retrieved 2018-12-10.
  44. ^ Klara|November 28, Robert; 2017. "Why Chobani Is Reinventing Itself—and Why It Had No Choice". Retrieved 2018-12-10.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  45. ^ "How Chobani's Hamdi Ulukaya Is Winning America's Culture War". Fast Company. 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  46. ^ "Impact | Giving Back | Chobani®". Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  47. ^ "Ellen and The Chobani Foundation Make a Huge Donation to W M Irvin Elementary School!". 2018-02-16. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  48. ^, HEATHER KENNISON. "Chobani Foundation is offering $100K in grants for 'big ideas' in Magic Valley". Twin Falls Times-News. Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  49. ^ "Chobani to promote 'economic opportunity' with $100K annual Central NY grant fund". Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  50. ^ "Chobani Foundation Announces New Aspect to Its CSR - Non Profit News | Nonprofit Quarterly". Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  51. ^ "Chobani donates yogurt to Hurricane Harvey flood victims". Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  52. ^ "Chobani to send powdered milk to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands". Retrieved 2018-11-14.
  53. ^ "IDFA Member Chobani Gets Creative to Support Military Families". Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  54. ^ "Chobani pays lunch money debt after school district's policy generates controversy". ABC News. Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  55. ^ "Latest Chobani flavor will benefit American Farmland Trust". Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  56. ^ "Chobani launches a delicious food incubator". Fast Company. 2016-09-20. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  57. ^ Crowley, Chris. "A New Incubator Program Is Launching to Help Find the Next Great Food Company". Grub Street. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  58. ^ "Chobani's Food Tech Residency tackles supply chain challenges to deliver better food to more people". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  59. ^ "Chobani CEO unveils 2016-17 incubator class: 'I don't think there's ever been a better time to be a food start up'". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  60. ^ "Chobani chooses seven start-ups for incubator program". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  61. ^ "Chobani selects start-ups for third incubator class". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  62. ^ Stych, Anne (18 September 2018). "Chobani announces food incubator participants". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  63. ^ "Chobani Creates a Food Incubator Cohort for U.S. Veterans". The Spoon. 2019-11-08. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  64. ^ "Chobani CEO Surprises Employees With Ownership Stake in the Company". ABC News. 2016-04-27. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  65. ^ "At Chobani, Now It's Not Just the Yogurt That's Rich". Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  66. ^ "Chobani to offer new moms and dads 6 weeks off at full pay". NBC News. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  67. ^ "For Helping Immigrants, Chobani's Founder Draws Threats". Retrieved 2018-11-06.
  68. ^ Hawkins, Derek (25 April 2017). "Chobani sues Alex Jones, saying he falsely linked company to child rape, tuberculosis". The Washington Post.
  69. ^ Montero, David (17 May 2017). "Alex Jones settles Chobani lawsuit and retracts comments about refugees in Twin Falls, Idaho". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]