Chobani donates 1 million cups of yogurt this holiday season, loading up trucks from the Chenango County plant with yogurt bound for City Harvest, a food rescue organization in New York City. A similar donation is coming from its second U.S. plant in Twin Falls, Idaho. Chobani’s brand officer Peter McGuinness:
True to our founding mission, Chobani is embracing the season of giving by providing what we can to those who need it most, and to giving back to the states that have given so much to us. Everyone at Chobani is committed to helping those in need and celebrating others who are giving joy throughout the holidays.
Chobani announces plans to open the Chobani Food Incubator, a program for new food entrepreneurs. The six-month program will provide classes, training, and mentorship. Founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya:
Today we’re opening our doors to entrepreneurs who share our vision for better food for tomorrow — food that’s natural and affordable. Making a product the right way is not always easy, but we’ve proven that the model works. I’m excited to work with entrepreneurs who share our goal and who can benefit from our experience.
Chobani announces a new addition to their line, Chobani Tots, yogurt pouches aimed specifically at toddlers. The new product line will hit stores in January. Chobani’s chief marketing and brand officer, Peter McGuinness:
It’s harder in the Greek yogurt category to lead than it used to be.
Turkish born CEO Hamdi Ulukaya pledges $2 million to aid refugees in Kobani, a town bordering Syria and Turkey that is under siege from ISIS.
Either we will be watching the massacre there and will live on with a guilty conscience or we will save people.
Chobani launches a new campaign for Chobani Oats, a new breakfast medley that combines whole grain steel-cut oats with fruit and yogurt flavors. CMO Peter McGuiness:
People have breakfast fatigue, there hasn’t been any breakfast innovation in so long. We’re the antidote to sad breakfasts.
Author and consultant Dov Seidman sues Chobani and its ad agency, Droga5, over the word “how” and its use in their marketing campaign “How Matters.” Seidman claims to own the trademark in the use of the word based on his authorship of the book How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything.
Chobani announces that it will partner with Green America in an initiative to explore potential non-GMO feed options for cattle. CMO Peter McGuinness:
We’ve been dedicated to open and honest conversations to evolve the country’s milk supply, from increasing the number of cows not treated with rBST and improving animal welfare to exploring how to increase non-GMO feed options.
Following Chobani’s announcement to explore non-GMO fed cattle, Idaho dairy farmers, many of whom supply Chobani, express feasibility concerns. Idaho Dairymen’s Association President Tony VanderHulst, a Wendell, Idaho dairyman is concerned it will be economically difficult.
First off, we need to get farmers together and have a roundtable discussion. There’s a lot to look at. It all comes down to sustainability, economics and feasibility.
Ten months after Chobani recalled 5% of their yogurt after hundreds of illness complaints, further research shows the contamination to be more dangerous than initially thought. A tested sample contains a subspecies of the fungus Mucor circinelloides, one that is commonly associated with human infections. Senior research associate with the Duke Department of Molecular Genetics and MicrobiologySoo Chan Lee:
The potential risk would be higher than we might have thought.
Barry Stoltz of Scarsdale and Allan Chang of Queens file a class-action suit in Brooklyn Federal Court alleging that Chobani is not really Greek yogurt and that the company misleads consumers over the health benefits.
There is nothing ‘Greek’ about the products. None of the products sold in the U.S. are made in Greece or made by Greek nationals.
Chobani announces that it will expand its product offerings beyond yogurt, to include a sour cream substitute and pudding like desserts.
We are creating new ways to enjoy Chobani’s delicious, nutritious, natural products throughout the day.
Giray contends that Ulukaya stole the recipe by bribing a former Fage employee. In her account, Ulukaya allegedly met a former Fage employee in Europe and paid him €30,000 or about $41,000 for the recipe.
In a complaint filed with the Manhattan Supreme Court, Ulukaya alleges his ex-wife, Giray, is a fraud trying to claim unearned credit. From Ulukaya’s filing:
Because plaintiff cannot win on the merits of her claims, she has fabricated any number of fantastical and completely baseless allegations.
Russia refuses to accept a shipment of 5,000 cups of Chobani yogurt, claiming the U.S. Agriculture Department failed to provide a necessary certificate. Despite Senator Chuck Schumer’s assertion that the standard trade rule didn’t apply as the yogurt was not meant to be sold, the yogurt stayed in its refrigerated Newark Airport warehouse. So as not to lose the product entirely to spoilage, Senator Schumer and Chobani work together to donate the yogurt to Saint John’s Soup Kitchen in New Jersey and to the Food Bank For New York City. Senator Schumer:
While we did not prevail, there is a silver – or gold – lining in the news that the yogurt will be donated to hungry men, women and children in New York and New Jersey.
Consumers who became sick after eating Chobani yogurt that was outside the recalled date range call for an expansion of pulled product. Catherine Herzog says she previously complained of bloated containers but purchased and consumed yogurt with a date outside the recalled range.
I did not eat anything outside of my normal diet that day except reintroducing Chobani. Unfortunately I came down with cramps, intense headaches, nausea and vomiting. I could not keep food or drink down for well over 12 hours. I think perhaps other studies or a reinvestigation of your affected plant is necessary.
Chobani spokeswoman Amy Juaristi assures customers that their voices are heard.
We have confidence in the scope of the recall, but will review all quality issues that are brought to our attention.
FDA spokeswoman Tamara Ward confirms that the number of illness complaints allegedly stemming from consuming tainted Chobani products has risen to 118. A Chobani spokesperson reports that 95 percent of the affected yogurt products have been destroyed.
Chobani recalls some affected product after cups of yogurt were seen to be swollen and bloated. The affected yogurt comes from its Idaho facility and represents less than 5% of total production. The Food and Drug Administration is in talks with the company about the matter. CEO Hamid Ulukaya:
Everybody in the company took this hard. It shook us up.
Giray, ex-wife of Chobani founder, Ulukaya, files a lawsuit that claims she is owed a 53% majority share of the company. In her complaint, Giray alleges that the couple founded the cheese-making business Eurphrates together using her assets and credit. She further alleges that the expansion into yogurt was also funded by her assets. She is seeking access to Chobani’s accounting records to assess further damages.