Home / Has The Yogurt Craze Expired? A Sour Situation For Chobani

Has The Yogurt Craze Expired? A Sour Situation For Chobani

It was announced yesterday that Whole Foods markets will no longer carry Chobani brand Greek yogurts as of January 2014, making it possible that the end of the yogurt craze in America is coming.   Certainly Chobani isn’t the only brand of yogurt in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, but Chobani has dominated the curdled enterprise and alone accounts for 36% of a more than $6 billion dollar yogurt market in the US.

Has The Yogurt Craze Expired?

Introduced into the yogurt market as a richer, healthier alternative,to other yogurts (like Yoplait)  the popularity and sale of Greek yogurt has grown like mold in a bachelors fridge. It is reported that yogurt consumption has risen by 400 percent over the last 30 years, and since the parent company Fage introduced its protein rich Greek yogurt blend known as Chobani in 1998, earned a whopping $4.2 billion in revenue for 2013.


Whole Foods Market Interior Photo By FASTILY (Own work) GFDL  via Wikimedia Commons

Whole Foods Market Interior
Photo By FASTILY (Own work) GFDL via Wikimedia Commons

It’s A Culture Thing

The pro-biotic benefits of yogurt have been widely advertised and recommended in recent years and are in part responsible for the yogurt craze of the last decade in America. While there is little dispute in the medical community as to the many overall health benefits of eating yogurt, it is nerve racking to realize that the product itself provides a fragile (and easily disguise-able) environment for insufficient quality control or processing and ingredient “shortcuts”.

yogurt craze in America

Photo:Turkish cac?k, made with yoghurt and cucumber from Wikimedia Commons

How is yogurt made?

Yogurt is consumed in various varieties and ways all over the world and also served,prepared and made differently. In America most simply, milk is heated to 176 degrees (Fahrenheit) which kills potentially harmful bacteria’s and then cooled to 112 degrees (Fahrenheit) which is then treated with bacterial culture and fermented between 4-7 hours.

All yogurts are good for you but Greek yogurt but in recent comparison studies, Greek yogurt has more protein, lower carbs, no preservatives, a creamier and richer taste while being lower in sugar. It has also been noted that Greek yogurt often does contain more saturated fat typically.

chobani gmo's

Photo by Lynn Betts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. (USDA NRCS Photo Gallery: NRCSIA99207.tif) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Did the cow bite off more than it could chew?

The reason why Whole Foods  is ended the contract with Chobani has been argued by multiple news agencies. According to the Wall Street Journal it was to take a stand against their known use of GMO’s, the New York Times said it was to expand the market for “niche” brands and according to both Whole Foods and Chobani it was simply that their business models didn’t align for 2014.

In a more expanded explanation by Whole Foods as to why they plan on keeping the also relatively popular brand Oikos but ditching Chobani, they explained in part to the Washington Post today,

“Whole Foods Market challenged our Greek yogurt suppliers to create unique options for shoppers to enjoy,” adding frustration about the GMO issue, retorting that “The story was inaccurate.”

The GMO’s rumored to be found in Chobani’s 28 plants across New York, the dubbed “Silcon Valley” of yogurt is a result of not being able to keep up with demand. It was reported that Chobani was feeding genetically modified grain to its herd of 78,000 cattle because of “difficulty” in finding the non GMO feed.

Whole Foods deciding to no longer offer Chobani is more about Whole Foods than Chobani and its image, yet unfortunately this news may have tarnished Chobani’s slightly. With all of the justified attention being raised as to what ingredients are actually in our foods and where our food comes from, we are likely to uncover good and bad, sweet and sour.

About Tonya O'Dell