New York-based Agro Farma has said it intends to open a $100m Greek yogurt manufacturing facility for its Chobani yogurt, in Twin Falls, Idaho.
The facility will be the second Chobani yogurt manufacturing facility, and the company said it expected it to open in 2012 and to create about 400 new jobs.
Chobani CEO and founder Hamdi Ulukaya said that the company had considered several possible sites for the new facility before settling on the Idaho location, partly because of the local dairy industry, which is the third-largest in the country.
"It was a hard decision to make, but in the end, we chose Twin Falls due to its abundant milk supply, skilled labor force and tight knit local community,” Ulukaya said.
Thick Greek-style yogurt has surged in popularity in the United States over the past few years, with consumers attracted to its creamy texture and healthy nutritional profile. Greek yogurt generally has about twice the protein content of regular non-fat yogurt.
Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter said: "We anticipate Chobani's planned investment to result in an additional $200 million in regional sales. Between construction activities, employment at the plant and the sourcing of local supplies like milk, there's no question that the economic effect of Chobani's new site will run deep throughout Southern Idaho, benefiting family farms as well as our dairy and construction industries."
The company said the new 200-acre Twin Falls site will not impact its previously announced expansion plans at South Edmeston, New York, where work is underway to more than double production capacity.
Chobani’s parent company Agro Farma launched the Chobani brand in 2007, and it is now the best-selling Greek yogurt brand in the United States – and the best-selling yogurt brand overall. Greek yogurt accounted for just 0.7% of the total US yogurt market in 2006, but now represents 19% of the market, according to a March report from UBS. The investment research firm found that the top two Greek yogurt brands, Chobani and Fage, represented 9 and 4 percent of the total yogurt market respectively.
Meanwhile, yogurt giants Yoplait, owned by General Mills, and Dannon , have been struggling to catch up, although they have launched their own Greek-style yogurt lines. According to UBS, Chobani holds 49% of the Greek yogurt market in the US, Fage accounts for 22%, Dannon 14% and General Mills 5%.
General Mills announced in July that it would expand manufacturing capacity for its Yoplait Greek yogurt line, while that same month Dannon said that it would invest $88m in its Ohio plant, with a strong focus on Greek-style yogurt.