AUSTIN, TEXAS – Whole Foods Market, Inc. will phase Chobani Greek yogurt out of its stores in early 2014 as it focuses on offering more organic and non-bioengineered products, Whole Foods said in a statement on Dec. 18.
“Whole Foods Market is committed to offering shoppers the widest variety of high quality products possible, including new items shoppers simply can’t find anywhere else,” Whole Foods Market said. “As the national demand for Greek yogurt has grown, the number of conventional Greek yogurt options has multiplied.
“Whole Foods Market challenged its Greek yogurt suppliers to create unique options for shoppers to enjoy — including exclusive flavors, non-G.M.O. options and organic choices. At this time, Chobani has chosen a different business model, so Whole Foods Market will be phasing Chobani Greek yogurt out of its stores in early 2014 to make room for product choices that aren’t readily available on the market.”
Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and chief executive officer of Chobani, Inc., said, “We’re mass, and we’re proud of it, and consumers everywhere can find our Greek yogurt at their local stores. These values are what made us the No. 1 Greek yogurt brand in America.
“Though we have very limited distribution within Whole Foods, they have been an important partner of ours over the years. As the No. 1 Greek yogurt brand in America using only natural ingredients, we share an affinity with Whole Foods and its shoppers. We know our fans love buying our products in their stores, and we hope to continue our partnership moving forward.”
Chobani, New Berlin, N.Y., does not use milk from cows that are treated with rBST (recombinant bovine somatropin), a synthetic growth hormone. Chobani yogurt does not contain any artificial sweeteners. Published news reports have said some consumers disapprove of Chobani making yogurt from milk produced by cows that are fed bioengineered animal feed.
Austin-based Whole Foods Market, which has more than 365 stores and had sales of $12.9 billion in fiscal year 2013, also offers Wallaby organic Greek yogurt.
Chobani addressed why it does not use organic milk in a Dec. 18 blog posting.
“We agree that people have a right to know what’s in their food, and we remain totally and completely committed to ensuring that everyone, regardless of income and location, can have access to delicious, nutritious products made with only natural ingredients,” Chobani said. “As America’s No. 1 selling Greek yogurt brand, we require a high volume of milk, and the necessary amount of organic milk is simply not available to support our broad consumer demand.”
Chobani in the blog posting said it supports the use of non-bioengineered feed for cows.“We stand by the 875 farms that provide us with milk as they explore new feed options,” Chobani said.