Chobani explained its decision – first reported by Food Dive – in a statement to us, explaining that, “As a company known for innovation, we’re always testing and trying new products in the marketplace.
“We launched Chobani Ultra-Filtered Milk with a copacker, and like many companies, we're seeing the impacts of inflation as a result of ongoing global issues. We have come to the tough conclusion that it does not make sense for Chobani to be in the Dairy Milk business at this time, so we’ve decided to end production of our Chobani Ultra-Filtered Milk platform.”
While the fluid milk market is notoriously challenging, with consumption steadily declining for decades, the ultra-filtered segment is one of the few pockets of growth, with Coca-Cola-owned Fairlife recently becoming a $1bn dollar brand at retail and other big names including Organic Valley and Horizon Organic getting in on the action.
Asked if there were specific factors at play here (such as the arrival of Kevin Burns as president following the recent departure of Peter McGuinness) given that inflationary pressures impact its other products as well, the company did not provide further details.
Flurry of new products
Chobani - which is still best known for its Greek yogurt - has expanded its portfolio in recent years, launching a flurry of new products from ready to drink coffee to probiotic yogurts, shakes, fermented beverages, the protein- and fiber-packed Chobani Complete range, oatmilks and dairy creamers.
In a recent interview with FoodNavigator-USA, former president Peter McGuinness - who joined foodtech firm Impossible Foods as CEO on April 4 - stressed that Chobani’s core yogurt portfolio was still growing, buoyed in part by a resurgence of growth in the yogurt category, which was amplified by COVID-19 (as more food consumption shifted to the home) but was evident well before the pandemic hit.
“We're innovating from a position of strength. The base business is strong. It's not like we're innovating out of a core decline to chase growth."
Ultra-filtered milk: Formulations and nutritional profiles vary, but ultra-filtered milk brands typically contain more protein and less sugar as membrane filtration techniques filter out some lactose and retain higher molecular weight suspended solids such as milk proteins. Chobani’s product boasted half the sugar and 2.5 times the protein of regular milk.
According to Nielsen data supplied by Chobani in February, dollar sales of ultra-filtered milk were up 17.5% year-on-year in the 52 weeks to January 15, 2022 in US retail outlets (Nielsen Scan, Total US Food xAOC).