Greek yogurt, one of the latest food phenomenons to hit the US market, is exploding. But that's not always a good thing
Greek yogurt, one of the latest food phenomenons to hit the US market, is exploding. Chobani, one of leaders in the segment is set to sell more than $1 billion worth of yogurt, according to Businessweek.com. Once a niche business, Greek yogurt now accounts for 36 percent of the $6.5 billion total US yogurt sales, according to investment firm AllianceBernstein and Businessweek.
But a recent issue in Chobani's Greek yogurt paradise has The Lempert Report wondering what’s to come. Chobani has asked various grocery retailers in the US to pull its yogurt cups from store shelves. But as of this writing they have refused to answer press calls or make an announcement as to what is going on. In 2013 we know how important transparency is for the food world to build confidence in our food supply; but Chobani's actions seem to be subversive (even if they are not!)
How many products can you think of that have never recovered from a withdraw due to food safety issues? Too many - which is why this company must tell their retailers and consumers exactly what the problem is - otherwise they may never recover.
In a statement on Chobani’s blog, in a post titled "Our Promise to You", the company stated, “Recently, we heard quality concerns surrounding certain cups, which were experiencing swelling or bloating. We’ve been diligently working with our retail partners and have voluntarily and proactively removed and replaced the majority of potentially affected cups with the code 16-012, expiration dates 9/11/2013 – 10/7/ 2013 to ensure our fans are met with only the best experience when enjoying our products.” As far as basic food safety precautions go, the swelling or bloating of packaging typically means that "something is growing" in the package - a bacteria perhaps? Which is why transparency is key - so consumers do not think the worst.
Chobani has not issued a recall, but rather is working with select retailers to replace product that does not meet their "quality" standards. Chobani also said the affected product does not pose a food safety concern. In fact, when products are deemed defective but do not pose a safety risk to consumers, they may be removed from store shelves as a market withdrawal. Recalls are issued when the product could cause harm.
Numerous fans have chimed in on Chobani’s Facebook page complaining of bloated and even exploding containers and yogurt that tasted foul or was bubbling out of the foil cover. The company has responded to nearly every post. An effort The Lempert Report certainly supports.
However, we feel that Chobani fans deserve the truth. If the yogurt is not harmful, let the customers know what happened. Were there too many probiotics added to the culture, the wrong type, or some other manufacturing mishap? The over eight hundred thousand devoted Facebook fans of the brand deserve an answer if Chobani is to preserve their market share and reputation.