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.