Whole Foods Is Dropping Chobani Next Year

The grocery chain said it was making room for more organic and non-GMO options.

Whole Foods will drop Chobani's Greek yogurt products from its shelves early next year, as the organic grocery chain shifts away from genetically modified foods.

"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," said Whole Foods in a statement. Such choices include exclusive flavors as well as organic and non-GMO options.

Chobani, named No. 40 to Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies list in 2012, grew its business--and more than $1 billion in sales annually--out of an abandoned Kraft yogurt plant, challenging yogurt heavyweights, such as Yoplait and Dannon. Though CEO and founder Hamdi Ulukaya said he was unclear why Whole Foods was dropping Chobani, the company has expressed difficulty finding enough non-genetically modified grain to feed more than 78,000 cows it uses to produce milk for its yogurt.

Responding to the news, Chobani released a statement:

The category we created is expanding rapidly as Greek Yogurt becomes the new standard. Our founding mission is to provide better food to more people. We strongly believe that access to affordable, nutritious, delicious yogurt made with only natural ingredients is a right, not a privilege. 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 number one 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 number one 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.

[Image: Flickr user missmeng]

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9 Comments

  • Chris Brown

    I really like Chobani yogurt. I kind of think the whole organic food thing is really overblown and more about marketing overpriced goods than it is about health and flavor. I'll continue to buy Chobani and Mueller at my local grocery.

  • Steve Kravitz

    Chobani is crap anyway. I have news for you people - REAL GREEK YOGURT DOES NOT HAVE SUGAR IN IT! CHOBANI YOGURT HAS SUGAR IN IT, AND THEREFORE IS NOT GREEK YOGURT!!!

    It is so sad to watch US companies bastardize pure, healthy products as soon as the public finds out about them. Greek yogurt never had sugar in it - THAT'S ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS IT WAS HEALTHY!!!

    Now that profit-obsessed Chobani (and Dannon, et al.) have jumped onto the Greek yogurt bandwagon, what's the first thing they do? Add sugar, basically turning something healthy into something no better than a candy bar.

  • Rick O'Loopey

    Whole Foods def just wants to push the crap out of their 360 brand and source identical quality (identically packaged) yoghurts for much lower prices. It will probably add another $100MM to the WF bottom line. Not cool but it's business.

  • James Brown

    Why is selling identical quality for lower prices not cool? In this case, you are saying the fact that they are moving from a higher priced, GMO product to a lower cost non - GMO product isn't cool. I guess somebody probably does lose here... Just not sure who it is. Chiobani will be fine with their "mainstream" relationships as they say in the article. Walmart can move a ton of yogurt.

  • lindalorra

    This is another good reason to change some GM positions, but it sounds like Whole Foods is jumping the gun a bit, and crushing a manufacturer to make a point. It takes time for dairies to prepare for such a transition, right? Does Chobani have the leverage to demand change of its suppliers?

  • Jim

    Perhaps they should have given them more time. However, the more the market demands (fill in the blank product), then the more quickly the market will fill that need. I have seen prices of organic stuff drop over the past several years, and more so in the past few years.

    Cheers.