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Whole Foods Severs Ties With Chobani, Citing GMO Concerns

It’s another blow for Chobani as the year draws to an end. The popular Greek yogurt company will no longer be sold at Whole Foods stores starting in early 2014.

This move by Whole Foods is unrelated to the Chobani recall that happened earlier this year. In September, more than 100 people became ill after eating yogurt that had been contaminated due to Mucor circinelloides, a mold commonly found in dairy. Though frequently used to produce natural flavor compounds, the mold had been causing products to swell and bloat.

whole foods market

Chobani powered through the recall without much fallout and looked to a smooth end to a year that saw Greek yogurt making up 50 percent of all yogurt sales. That changed last Wednesday when Whole Foods announced they would no longer sell Chobani yogurt.

Whole Foods has said this decision is due to its desire to sell more non-GMO and organic yogurts. Chobani produces Greek yogurt made with milk from cows which are often fed GMO feed.

“As the national demand for Greek yogurt has grown, the number of conventional Greek yogurt options has multiplied,” Whole Foods said in a statement. “Whole Foods Market challenged its Greek yogurt suppliers to create unique options for shoppers to enjoy – including exclusive flavors, non-GMO options and organic choices.”

The statement went on to say that Whole Foods feels Chobani has chosen a different business model, which will lead to the phasing out of the yogurt at the start of the year.

Though no longer being sold at Whole Foods is certainly a blow to the yogurt company, Chobani will still be available at other retailers.

In its own statement, Chobani addressed the Whole Foods issue. “Though we have limited distribution within Whole Foods, they have been a wonderful and an important partner of ours over the years. As the number one Greek yogurt brand in America using only natural ingredients, we share an affinity with Whole Foods and its shoppers. We know our fans love buying our products in their stores and we hope to continue our partnership moving forward.”

Ultimately, Whole Foods’ decision to part ways with Chobani comes down to its desire to sell products that don’t appear on every grocery shelf. They want to specialize in niche markets, and are taking the steps to continue to do just that.

Image from freep.com

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December 23rd, 2013

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