Chobani is enjoying a continuing run following a banner year for the indie yogurt brand.
The New York-based brand scored double-digit gains in sales and volume in 2016 driven by strong reception for its Flip dessert-style products and new drinks line, and also by the performance of its core Greek-yogurt cups range that revolutionized America’s yogurt business when Chobani started in 2005.
Founder Hamdi Ulukaya company has picked up growth momentum that is impressive if only because it’s coming not only long after Chobani essentially invented mainstream Greek yogurt but also some time after the category has stabilized in the US.
Americans’ love for Greek-style yogurt is no longer enough to keep category growth guaranteed, as overall US retail yogurt category sales declined by 0.9 percent to $7.7 billion last year, and unit sales slumped by 5.4 percent.
“Flip is on fire,” Chobani CMO Peter McGuinness told FoodNavigator-USA.com, referring to the new dessert-style line of Greek yogurts that includes flavors such as Peppermint Perfection and Cinnabun Fun. “And my vision of it being our next billion-dollar platform … has not changed.” In fact, the brand plans a big new marketing campaign beginning in a few weeks.
Meanwhile, Chobani’s new yogurt drinks provide “mostly incremental growth” and ultimately could become 2o percent to 40 percent of the yogurt category, McGuinness said. Chobani rivals including Dannon and Yoplait, of course, have had drinkable yogurts for many years.
And while some new Chobani products such as an oats-based Greek yogurt line haven’t fared as well, the brand keeps finding new ways to gain traction, such as with its savory Meze Dip line. It is also expanding its relationship with McDonald’s in southern California to be featured in a variety of products, and Chobani yogurt tubes are about to be offered in Happy Meals.
Still, there are some places Chobani still doesn’t plan to go, including organics (because it typically entails higher price points) and Europe, as it pulled out of the UK pre-Brexit. Instead, the brand wants to focus on other international markets such as Mexico. And, of course, it’s still flipping and doing backbends to surprise, delight and win consumers in its home market.
“The US yogurt market is still so under-penetrated that we are hyper-focused on continuing to grow the category here in terms of function and excitement,” as McGuinness puts it.