Under the pilot program, the USDA will trial the addition of high-protein, low-fat Greek yogurt to the National School Lunch Program in New York, Idaho, Arizona, and Tennessee.
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, a spokesperson for the USDA confirmed that Chobani’s bid to supply the trial was selected over proposals from North Carolina-based Origin Foods, Vermont-based Commonwealth Dairy, and New York-based Alpina, and Upstate Farms.
“On July 26 2013, USDA awarded a contract to supply high protein yogurt in the National School Lunch Program,” said the spokesperson. “The contract was awarded to the lowest price bidder, Chobani.”
Chobani, which is the most popular Greek yogurt brand in the US, offered a flat rate of $1.40 per pound (lb) of yogurt to every school taking part in the trial. Origin Foods challenged Chobani across each of the four states, but could only offer rates of between $1.60 and $2.83 per lb.
Alpina, which bid to supply schools in its home state, could offer only a flat rate of $2.20 per lb.
Next steps for the pilot?
During the trial period, which is scheduled to run from September to November 2013, Chobani will supply almost 200,000lbs of its branded four ounce (oz) cups and 32oz tubs of Greek yogurt.
“The award to Chobani includes the full amount requested by states for the initial pilot period of September to November 2013,” said the spokesperson.
“States were permitted to order any quantity of high protein yogurt they desired for delivery from September to November 2013 within the balance of their USDA foods entitlement. The four states’ orders for this time period total 199,800 pounds of yogurt.”
Based on its flat rate, Chobani will receive payment of $279,000 for the trial period, the USDA spokesperson revealed.
If deemed successful and cost-effective, the pilot could be rolled out across the US and made a permanent fixture on the US School Lunch Program, which feeds around 31m US students each year.
“USDA will evaluate the cost-effectiveness of its initial procurement by December 2013 to determine next steps for the pilot,” the USDA spokesperson added.
Strengthen NY dairy industry
The USDA committed to establishing the Greek yogurt pilot program earlier this year, following pressure from US Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Representative Richard Hanna.
Schumer, Gillibrand and Hanna urged the USDA to create a pilot program to bring Greek yogurt to New York schools, and reclassify it as a high-protein product under its MyPlate nutrition guidelines
Commenting on Chobani’s successful bid, Gillibrand said: “New York State is home to a strong and growing Greek yogurt industry. And when we connected Chobani to lunchrooms across the state and across the country, we can give our children better access to healthy, nutritious food, while strengthening New York’s own dairy industry.”
Senator for Idaho, Mike Crapo, also heralded the USDA decision as a huge boost for his state’s dairy industry.
“Today’s news not only benefits Idaho’s communities, but our thriving dairy industry. I have advocated for the inclusion of Greek yogurt in school lunches and am proud Chobani, with its presence here in Twin Falls, Idaho, has been selected to play a key role in the program,” said Crapo.