Greek yogurt giant Chobani has jumped on the popular plant-based wave and introduced a line of non-dairy yogurt alternative drink and cup products. It follows last month’s announcement of Chobani’s significant expansion into kids’ yogurt.
Non-dairy alternatives are increasingly common at supermarkets in all dairy categories, though there was a particular surge in innovation for non-dairy milk and ice cream alternatives in 2018. Classic brands like Quaker, Häagen-Dazs, and Ben & Jerry’s all now offer vegan choices in their product portfolios.
Yogurt has been a bit slower for non-dairy launches, though there are still several options available on the market from brands like Good Karma, So Delicious, Silk and Daiya.
“Though non-dairy spoonable options account for a slim percentage of total sales in the yogurt aisle, double-digit sales growth for these non-dairy products has outperformed the total category,” Chobani said.
Not a dairy replacement
Chobani is now joining these ranks in its first move into the plant-based industry. Non-Dairy Chobani is launching with a line of drinks and cups, totaling nine new items. The vegan products are made with a coconut base using only natural, non-GMO ingredients, and no artificial flavors, sweeteners or preservatives. They contain an average of 25% less sugar than other non-dairy competitors.
The 5.3oz single-serve cups will come in Vanilla, Strawberry, Blueberry, Peach and Slightly Sweet Plain, while the 7oz single-serve drinks will come in Vanilla Chai, Strawberry, Mango and Slightly Sweet Plain.
Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani, said, “We have a belief: if we can’t make something better, we don’t make it at all. And for some time, we’ve felt that people deserve better non-dairy options.”
“We’ve come up with something that’s much better than what’s out there – a new recipe that’s absolutely delicious, but also meets our food philosophy of being nutritious, made with only natural ingredients and at a price that’s accessible to all. Most importantly, this isn’t a replacement to dairy, but it’s a game-changer for plant-based products.”
Chobani has led the Greek yogurt market in the US for years, and this will be its second launch that doesn’t fall within that category. Chobani Smooth was introduced in late 2017 as an iteration of the “classic, non-Greek yogurt you grew up loving, only better.”
Complying with standards of identity
The biggest draw to Greek yogurt is often its nutritional benefits. Compared to traditional low-fat yogurt, it has twice the protein and less lactose. It also has a creamy texture that can make it taste more indulgent and less healthy, which consumers respond to when choosing their snacks.
But the new non-dairy products are not made with the same slow-straining or separating process required to receive the strict ‘Greek’ label. Chobani aimed for them to have “a good body but not as dense as Greek yogurt.”
The company is avoiding the ‘yogurt’ label as well in order to comply with the recently-debated standards of identity for dairy and non-dairy products. The FDA is in the middle of a review process for redefining and enforcing these standards in the name of nutritional transparency.
“As an independent food company, Chobani is taking a leadership role in advocating for transparency in dairy and clear distinctions between milk-based foods, such as yogurts, and other options like our Non-Dairy Chobani cultured organic coconut purees,” Chobani said.
“Chobani believes consumers are more empowered when food companies accurately describe foods and the nutritional benefits they offer.”
A long list of launches
This is the second major line launch Chobani has announced in recent months. In November came the first news of Chobani Gimmies, a expansive collection of 13 products designed and marketed specifically for children ages 6-10.
Chobani considered Gimmies its biggest and most significant launch since the Chobani Flip in 2015, calling the options in kids’ yogurt today ‘lousy’ and ‘impractical’. With the launch it wanted to excite kids about healthy yogurt rather than the readily available sugary options tweens gravitate toward.
The Gimmies line features original mascots that the company tested with children for more than a year. It’s expected to launch a major corresponding marketing campaign in 2019 and is still slowly rolling out to grocery stores nationwide.
Last summer also saw the introduction of Chobani Savor, a condiment squeeze pouch-designed alternative to sour cream that comes in Low Fat Plain and Whole Milk Plain.
The A Hint Of… line was announced in August, and has recently been expanded and rebranded to Chobani Less Sugar featuring low sugar, high protein and a mild taste. New formats and flavors include a Chobani Flip version, multipacks and larger tubs in Lemon Cookie, Raspberry Chocolate and Vanilla Mocha.