The World's Most Innovative Companies 2018
Greek yogurt giant Chobani may sell a smooth product, but it isn’t afraid to play rough. In 2016, it poked its rivals General Mills and Dannon with an ad campaign suggesting their yogurts contain unappetizing additives. The company has also been expanding tastes to win a greater share in the overall yogurt category, where it generates an estimated $1.5 billion in revenue annually. In 2016, it launched a new line of yogurt drinks, more variations on its Flip mix-in product, additional yogurt flavors, and a concept café inside a Target in Manhattan.
But the company doesn’t want to change taste alone. Chobani funded its own healthy-living food incubator, awarding an inaugural class of six $25,000 each to continue growing in a mission-driven way. The drizzle of honey on top came in April 2016, when CEO Hamdi Ulukaya rewarded his employees with hundreds of millions in shares. “One thing I always say is, ‘I don’t want more, I just want to do more,’” he says of his strategy for investing in others. “Whatever I see in the world that discourages me, I answer with Chobani.”
For Ulukaya, it's part of what he sees as the role of business: Since governments aren't solving problems like the income gap on their own, corporations should. Chobani gives a portion of its profits to charity, focusing on access to food for underserved communities. As Chobani brings back jobs to communities like tiny Norwich, New York--in a factory abandoned by Kraft Foods--it's also helping hire some of the most vulnerable community members. Roughly 30% of the company's workforce are resettled refugees. In 2015, Ulukaya launched a new personal foundation, the Tent Foundation, which is helping lead other corporations to help refugees as well.