Chobani opens 71,000 sq ft innovation and community center at Twin Falls plant in Idaho

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Chobani opens 71,000 sq ft innovation and community center at Twin Falls plant in Idaho

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Chobani has opened a 71,000 sq ft innovation and community center at its Twin Falls plant in Idaho, the world’s largest yogurt production facility, as its celebrates a 6.9% jump in dollar sales in measured channels in the latest 52 weeks (Nielsen Total US Food week ending 7/13/2019).

The new center also serves as home to the global R&D center at Chobani, which has a 19.4% share of the US yogurt market and claims to be the only major yogurt manufacturer reporting dollar sales and volume growth year-to-date in 2019.

With a cafeteria, 2,185sq ft fitness center, lactation rooms, a faith center, and 7,000sq ft gathering space for town halls, shared meals, daily relaxation and special celebrations, the LEED-certified (pending) building offers a symbolic ‘open door’ to guests and visitors from around the world, said the company.

At more than 14,000 square feet, the R&D center encompasses the entire top floor of the building, and features a state-of-the-art ‘chef kitchen,’ added Chobani, which said it would continue to grow its R&D department as it “expands its focus on being a food-focused wellness company.”

US yogurt market edging back to growth

US retail sales of yogurt + yogurt drinks fell -1.8% in the 52 weeks to June 29, 2019, the third year of negative sales. But there have been signs of recovery in recent months, with sales down just -0.4% in the 13 weeks to June 29, and sales up +0.1% in the four weeks to June 29, according to Nielsen xAOC data supplied to FoodNavigator-USA by Chobani.

Speaking to us last month after Chobani unveiled its latest innovation – Greek yogurt infused with nut butters – chief marketing and commercial officer Peter McGuinness acknowledged that category sales of Greek yogurt continued to decline, but said Chobani’s core Greek yogurt line was growing.

The pockets of growth​ ​[in the overall category] are​ ​[yogurt for] kids, yogurt drinks​, [yogurts with] less sugar, and plant-based​ [yogurts], but what’s encouraging is that our core Greek yogurt is growing year over year, so when people say Greek is dead, well our core Greek yogurt is up.

We’re the only major manufacturer that’s growing year to date – that’s market share and dollar growth and EQ volume growth, and in the last four weeks with Nielsen data, the category is back to flat. Now, we’re not going to do cartwheels over flat growth, but I think this is a huge story, a tremendous improvement, and we’re driving a lot of that growth."​

Chobani Smooth​,​ the company’s first foray into non-Greek yogurt, had “not set the world on fire"​ ​since its 2017 launch, acknowledged McGuinness. “We’ve been out of Smooth for a while although we’re still in some specialty channels, foodservice, and in Mexico. You can’t get them all right.”​

Chobani’s new 5-SKU line (MSRP $1.69/5.3oz cup) combines 2% milk fat Greek Yogurt (in plain, vanilla, honey, and chocolate flavors) with nut butters (almond, cashew, and hazelnut), creating a more filling snack with healthy fats and protein.

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