Chobani continues expansion with plans for new regional flavors

Posted By Crystal Beasley

By Alex Soderstrom and Zach Hansen
Cox-SABEW Fellows, University of Georgia

New York – Chobani’s founder and CEO recounted fondly the details of his company’s first sale as he discussed plans for product expansion.

“In October of 2007, I sold my first two cases of yogurt to a kosher store in Long Island,” Hamdi Ulukaya said. “It was the first time the cup appeared on the shelf, and it was one of the happiest days of my life.”

Speaking to reporters during an October conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, Ulukaya said his company’s growth from those humble beginnings is far from done.  In January, the company will launch a series of regional flavors tailored for local markets, he said.

Chobani has grown into a major food company, popularizing Greek yogurt for American consumers and achieving a valuation somewhere between $3 billion and $5 billon, according to The New York Times.

Ulukaya said the flavor extensions included the possibility of a peach flavored yogurt in Georgia, made with authentic Georgia peaches. Other regions, from the South to the East Coast to the Northeast, would have their own regional flavors, although Ulukaya declined to offer specifics.

Marketing the products will be simple, Ulukaya said, since Chobani can pick regional television markets to advertise distinct flavors. The challenge lies in the shipping logistics.

“It can be challenging to make a batch that small and ship it over there in six days,” Ulukaya said. “But I think we’ve figured it out.”

Chobani’s plan to offer a diversity of regional flavors matches Ulukaya’s view of American taste pallets, which he said is as varied as the heritages and cultures that make up the country’s citizenry.   “The taste profile of the people of this country is pretty wide,” Ulukaya said.

Offering regional flavors early in 2018 will be the second major product initiative Chobani has made in the past year.  In the summer, the company released Chobani Smooth, a traditional variety of yogurt aimed directly at competitors such as Dannon and Yoplait.

In 2016, Chobani overtook Yoplait as the best-selling yogurt brand in the United States, totaling nearly $2 billion in sales that year, Bloomberg reported in March.


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