- Chobani has repackaged its Greek yogurt in a 14-ounce squeeze bottle for use as a condiment, according to the Twin Falls (Idaho) Times-News. Whole-milk and low-fat plain varieties of Chobani Savor will be on store shelves this month and were developed and produced at the company's plant in Twin Falls, the newspaper reported.
- Kai Sacher, Chobani's senior vice president of global research and development, told the Times-News that the product has fewer calories, less fat and three times as much protein as sour cream and can be used on potatoes, tacos, nachos, salads and other food items.
- The company brought in new machinery to make the Chobani Savor packaging, which is said to be softer than other squeezable containers on the market today. "This is highly sophisticated technology," Sacher told the newspaper. "It's a total new experiment."
While Chobani has long advocated using Greek yogurt in cooking, the convenience of squeezable containers is likely to encourage some consumers to do so more often — particularly those home cooks who want to cut calories and fat by not using sour cream on baked potatoes and other foods.
The Idaho-based yogurt maker has boosted innovations in the recent past after bringing Greek yogurt to the U.S. market more than 10 years ago. Thanks to its popularity — along with a generous marketing spend and a practice of doling out samples and focusing on the individual experience — Chobani was said to control 38% of the Greek yogurt category in the U.S. last year, which is higher than either Yoplait or Dannon.
However, since dollar sales of Greek yogurt dropped by nearly 5% in the 52 weeks ending this past Oct. 28, Chobani has an incentive to boost interest in any way possible. The company has also been trying to keep up with consumer trends in other ways by introducing its "A Hint Of" lower-sugar yogurt line this past December, while General Mills' Yoplait brand has been innovating with French yogurts.
Kai Sacher, the company's senior vice president of global R&D, told the Capital Press that his team works closely with Chobani Founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya to develop innovative food products and get fast feedback. As a result, he said the company is able to bring new items to market within six months. Chobani also revamped its yogurt packaging late last year with a new logo and announced it would hike its marketing budget by 35% this year, so it's clear the company intends to keep its dominant position in the space.
Chobani also seems to maintain an entrepreneurial culture and encourages out-of-the-box thinking, so it's not surprising that the yogurt maker would develop new applications such as this Savor product to differentiate itself and lure more consumers into trying its Greek yogurt. A handy and tasty condiment featuring less fat and fewer calories — along with more protein — might well appeal to anyone looking for flavor but without those downsides.
No doubt the competition will be paying close attention to how Chobani Savor performs in the marketplace. Sour cream makers such as Land O'Lakes and Dean Foods have come out with light and fat-free versions of the product, but they don't come in squeeze bottles — at least, not yet.