Greek yogurt is hot, but the hottest Greek yogurt brand is losing its place on Whole Foods' shelves. The grocer yesterday announced it is giving Chobani the boot in favor of what the Wall Street Journal calls "smaller, exclusive brands"—specifically those that are organic, and free of GMO ingredients. The change will come early next year, in advance of the company's 2018 deadline to have all the products it carries disclose their GMO ingredients on the label. As the company explains, it "challenged... suppliers to create unique options," including flavors specific to Whole Foods and GMO-free versions, and "at this time, Chobani has chosen a different business model."
For its part, Chobani says its business model isn't reliant on Whole Foods, with the CEO saying the account drives only a modest portion of its $1 billion in annual sales. "It won't hurt our business," says Hamdi Ulukaya, who also explained why his brand, which is preservative- and hormone-free, contains GMOs. He says GMO-free milk isn't available at a large scale at a feasible price, but that Chobani is teaming up with farmers to try to tackle one of the pain points in the process: obtaining GMO-free feed for cows. (Read more Chobani stories.)