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Most Innovative Company Chobani Yogurt Causes A Big Stir

When we spoke to Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya in 2011, he told us he attributed the company's astronomical success to its ability to "let customers define what Chobani was." The maker of Greek-style strained yogurt, #40 on our list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2012, proved the underdog could muscle its way to the top of an industry long dominated by billion-dollar brands such as Yoplait and Dannon.

In 2012, the yogurt upstart is on track to do $1 billion in sales, a 54% increase from last year's $650-plus million. That's a staggering figure for a company that, just six years ago, was getting its start out of an abandoned Kraft yogurt plant. New York-based Chobani has since invested nearly $300 million to build a second, yet-to-open production facility in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Chobani also scored a gig as an official sponsor of the 2012 London Olympics, which featured a TV spot that made for a heartfelt follow-up to last year's "Chobani Love Stories" ad campaign, which doubled sales.

Finally, in July the company opened its first retail location, Chobani SoHo in New York City, where customers can indulge in yogurt bar creations with Mediterranean toppings, such as figs and honey.

[Image: Flickr user Meng He]