“We technically entered the beverage business a few months ago with oatmilk – which is booming, but Chobani Probiotic is our first move into the new age functional beverage category, and we’re super excited about it, as there’s not really anything else like it on the market,” McGuinness told FoodNavigator-USA.
“This is getting very broad distribution. A couple of customers are putting it adjacent to yogurts where they have some functional products, but by and large it’s going to sit in the refrigerated functional beverage set [next to products such as kombucha and high end-juices].”
While there is no shortage of innovation in the functional beverages category, buyers have been enthusiastic about Chobani Probiotic because they think it’s bringing something new to the category, but also because it comes from an established, trusted brand that can deliver at a time when retailers need reliable supply chain partners, he said.
“I think consumers are searching for probiotics more than ever now, as they are thinking about digestive health and immunity, but in general they are looking for better for you beverages. This is a fermented, lightly effervescent, plant-based, certified organic beverage with a crisp and delicious mouthfeel and super interesting flavor profiles.”
No health claims
The beverages – which are manufactured in Chobani’s Twin Falls facility in Idaho - come in four flavors (Lemon Ginger, Pineapple Turmeric, Peach Mint, and Cherry Hibiscus tea). Each 14 oz bottle (SRP $3.79) has 70-80 calories, 10-11g of total sugar (primarily from oats, but also from juice concentrates), 1g fiber, and 1-2g protein.
The formulation starts with a base of whole grain oats and fruit juice, and – according to a press release issued by Chobani this morning - are “fermented with a blend of probiotic cultures to support digestive and immune health.”
However, the company does not list the specific probiotic strains used on pack (the label lists the genus and species, eg. L. Rhamnosus, L. Acidophilus, but not the strain), and does not make any structure/functure claims about their benefits (eg. supports digestive/immune health).
“We’re cognizant of what some brands are doing in the wake of coronavirus with immunity claims and I don’t want people to be misled,” claimed McGuinness, although he said that Chobani had selected probiotic strains with clinical data behind them. “I see a lot of brands trying to exploit this virus in a way by promising things and I don’t think that’s responsible.”
Chobani Probiotic beverages are available in four flavors (Lemon Ginger, Pineapple Turmeric, Peach Mint, and Cherry Hibiscus tea).
Each 14 oz bottle (SRP $3.79) has 70-80 calories, 10-11g of total sugar (primarily from oats), 1g fiber, 1-2g protein and a 90-day shelf-life.
INGREDIENTS (Cherry Hibiscus Tea): Carbonated water, oat blend (water, whole grain oats ), apple juice from concentrate (water, apple juice concentrate), dark sweet cherry juice from concentrate (water, dark sweet cherry juice concentrate ), apple cider vinegar, natural flavors, fruit and vegetable juice (for color), hibiscus tea, cultures.
Chobani Complete: Protein, fiber, no added sugar
Chobani Complete Greek yogurt cups – also manufactured at Twin Falls - come in Blueberry, Key Lime, Vanilla, Strawberry, Mixed Berry, and Peach flavors. Each 5.3 oz cup (MSRP $1.49) has 120 calories, 6-7g of total sugar, 3g fiber, and 15g protein.
The shakes (SRP $1.99/10fl oz bottle) are available in Banana Cream, Mixed Berry Vanilla, Strawberry Cream, and Vanilla and have 190-200 calories, 12-13g of total sugar, 3g fiber, and 25g protein, said McGuinness.
“The overall yogurt category rebounded in Q4 [after months of flat and declining figures] and continued to grow in Q1, and it’s now it’s accelerating in Q2, so yogurt now is consistently growing at 2-4% and Greek yogurt is up 10-12% on a sustained basis.
“Complete is a low-fat Greek yogurt innovation that does it all – you’ve got all the essential amino acids, 15-25g high-quality protein, no added sugar, prebiotics [in the form of chicory root fiber] and it’s lactose-free [it contains the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose/milk sugar so it’s more easily digested].
“It’s also low in absolute sugar, and has no added sugar, and so it addresses lots of need states and eating occasions.”
We’re not going to market this as a ‘brogurt’
As for the marketing, he said, “We’re not going to market this as a ‘brogurt,’and resort to marketing clichés.
“This is not just for gym rats, it’s for modern, busy consumers that probably work out, they care what they eat, so people that are health-conscious, but not maniacal… and that’s a huge potential audience, so we’ve got very big distribution on this product.”
‘Stevia has come a long way in the last five years’
While there is a market for less sweet products that still use a small amount of cane sugar rather than high intensity sweeteners, Chobani Complete is sweetened with Reb M stevia leaf extract and monk fruit extract, said McGuinness.
“This is for the consumer that wants no added sugar. Stevia has come a long way in the last five years, and we feel much better about using it.”
Chobani Oat sales are ‘booming’
Overall, Chobani is experiencing “high double-digit growth,” with strong performances from its core range, Flip (which McGuiness said was “on fire”), and more recent launches such as Gimmies kids’ products (with more innovation due in the fall) and the clean-label creamers. The plant-based range is also expanding in the fall with more indulgent products.
However, Chobani Oat – launched in January – has been a standout performer, he said.
“Chobani Oat is well beyond our plan so we’re super-encouraged because the repeat is very high.
“We’re continuing to expand distribution and gain shelf-space, and launch new products during a pandemic, so I’m really proud of the team. It’s been crazy, but we’ve shipped everything on time, which is a feat unto itself in the current environment.”
WEBINAR: Unlocking Innovation: Preventive health, wellness, and nutrition (self-care in focus)Hear more insights into how consumers are thinking about probiotics in the second webinar in FoodNavigator-USA's global Unlocking Innovation webinar series on Thursday July 23, which features experts from IRI, Thrive Market, DuPont and Beneo.
Signing up gives you access to all of the webinars (when you get the confirmation email, select those you are interested in and add them to your calendar.) Register HERE.
The US-focused events are:
- June 29: Navigating the new normal: NPD and the evolving consumer landscape (on demand)
- July 23: Preventive health, wellness and nutrition (self-care in focus)
- July 30: Startups, new business development, and funding
- August 6: Sustainability in focus: From environmentally-friendly packaging to responsible ingredients sourcing