Chobani is expanding its presence in dairy with milk and half and half, marking the latest product rollouts for the company as it moves aggressively to grow beyond its Greek yogurt roots.
The company's Chobani Ultra-Filtered Milk, which is made using a special filtration process to help eliminate lactose and reduce sugar by half, is said to have 2.5 times more protein than traditional milk. The offering is available in whole, reduced fat 2%, fat free and chocolate. The Chobani Half and Half, available in both plain and lactose-free options, allows the company to further grow its presence in the coffee creamer space by complementing its earlier dairy, oat and plant-based varieties.
The products immediately position Chobani as a potential disruptor in categories with billions of dollars in annual sales. Ultra-filtered milk is driving growth in the $1.7 billion easy-to-digest milk segment, according to Nielsen data provided by Chobani, while dairy-based half and half is valued at $1 billion.
"The brand has proven its ability to legitimately, credibly play and importantly perform in that refrigerated aisle," Peter McGuinness, Chobani's president and chief operating officer, said in an interview.
The new products are the latest by Chobani as it transcends beyond its signature Greek yogurt, and a key step in laying the groundwork to grow sales and evolve into a total food company. Chobani, which filed to go public last year, is expected to officially debut on Wall Street later this year.
Chobani's first foray outside of yogurt came in 2019 with the launch of non-dairy Chobani Oatmilk. Since then, the 15-year-old company has moved into cold brew coffee, probiotic beverages and coffee creamers. In a November regulatory filing, Chobani said yogurt generated $1.2 billion in sales for the company in 2020, while its other products posted net sales of $157.7 million.
"These categories are ripe for disruption. And we like our odds," McGuinness said. "I think ultimately people want better options, and they want those options from brands they know, love and trust."
The milk category as a whole has been mired in a multi-year slide as demand for the calcium-rich liquid wanes and plant-based alternatives rapidly grow in popularity. Dairy milk recorded sales of roughly $16.5 billion in 2016, a report last September from Mintel showed, and has been declining or flat every year since then, with the exception of a pandemic-fueled spike in 2020. The data analytics firm predicted sales to edge lower to $15 billion in 2026 from $15.8 billion a year ago.
Despite milk's challenges, one bright spot has been innovation, with value-added options and their high margins attractive to companies. Coca-Cola acquired the remaining stake in Fairlife it didn't already own in 2020, adding to the fold the brand's ultra-filtered milk, higher-protein and lactose-free product. Organic Valley has debuted ultra-filtered milk and Horizon Organic offers its own high protein milk line. New Zealand's a2 Milk, whose product lacks a protein that can cause stomach discomfort, also has been a big winner in the marketplace. It forged a co-branding partnership with Hershey to develop chocolate milk that hit U.S. shelves last month.
The Ultra-Filtered Milk segment has soared 17.5% during the last 52 weeks ending Jan. 15, according to Nielsen data.
McGuinness said despite the robust competition, Chobani has shown an ability to enter and successfully disrupt a category, beginning with yogurt more than a decade ago. He said Chobani is experiencing rapid growth across many of its newer product lines, including oat milk and cold brew coffee, while continuing to post 17% year-over-year growth in yogurt — far outpacing the 6% to 7% increase for the category as a whole.
"We go against really big players in yogurt, right, and we've done quite well," McGuinness said. "We love to compete."