Why Whole Foods Dropped Chobani Yogurt And Why This Matters To You

yogurt2Greek yogurt has become “all the rage”, and companies like Chobani who produce greek yogurt have had a great deal of success over the past few years. Per capita yogurt consumption has grown by 400 percent over the past three decades, according to IbisWorld, and Greek yogurt has rocketed to 29 percent of the market since Fage introduced it to the United States in 1998. Chobani now has 12.5 percent of the overall yogurt pie, which brought in $4.2 billion in revenue in 2013.

Last year Whole Foods took a major stance of phasing out all GMO’s from their stores, which is not easy to do, and last year spent a good deal of its time hearing from and assessing their wholesalers and suppliers to ensure their non-GMO goals would go through.

…Many believe this is the sole reason Whole Foods dropped Chobani which uses milk from cows who consume GMO foods.

Whole Foods has become very successful for many reasons, with one being that they listen to their customers and they offer their customers unique products and a unique experience.

Chobani, being a company who services a “health seeking market” should of expected what was about to happen- get axed from Whole Foods for more than just their usage of GMO ingredients.

Whole Foods is not totally GMO free yet, so it was a bit puzzling why they would hold Chobani to task so soon, especially since they say they want to move in the GMO free direction.

As reported in the Wall street Journal:

The reason suggested by the Wall Street Journal: Whole Foods wants to move towards disclosure of all genetically modified ingredients. Chobani uses milk from cows that eat genetically modified corn and soybeans, which Chobani says is the only way it can produce enough yogurt to supply the burgeoning market. But Whole Foods doesn’t say all its products are GMO-free now either, and Chobani says it wants to move in that direction as well, so that rationale doesn’t hold up.* (Whole Foods has not responded to a request for clarification. UPDATE: Whole Foods says that Chobani did not intend to rid its products of genetically modified content, but declined say whether its other Greek yogurt suppliers had promised to do so or not. Full statement below.)

[UPDATE: Whole Foods clarifies that only the headline was inaccurate, and has since been corrected] Whole Foods Market strives to offer the widest variety of products possible, including items shoppers simply can’t find anywhere else. As the national demand for Greek yogurt has grown, so has the number of conventional Greek yogurt options. As is the case with any saturated product category, Whole Foods Market challenged our Greek yogurt suppliers to create unique options for shoppers to enjoy – whether it be exclusive flavors, organic choices or non-GMO options. At this time, Chobani has chosen a different business model, so we will be phasing Chobani Greek Yogurt out of our stores in early 2014 to make room for choices that aren’t readily available on the market.

So, as you can see, the GMO thing was only a part of it. Whole Foods wants unique options for its shoppers- AND THIS IS THE TAKE HOME FOR YOU…HOW CAN YOU CONTINUE TO OFFER YOUR SHOPPERS UNIQUE OPTIONS?

Here are some thoughts…please share more examples in the comment section:

  • Customized medications via compounding
  • Specialty/practitioner based nutrition
  • Specialized skin care
  • Wellness/beauty/anti-aging services
  • Educational services
  • Online services that shadow your offline services (consults via skype, webinars on health related topics,etc)

Once again, thanks to Whole Foods for being the innovator in their field and in industry at large.


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