Yogurt giant Chobani enters the peanut butter category

Dive Brief:

  • Chobani is entering the peanut butter aisle with the roll out of Chobani Ends Child Hunger Peanut Butter Flavored Nutrient Spreads. The company said it will donate all profits from the sale of the spreads to Edesia Nutrition, a nonprofit fighting hunger, for the production of Plumpy’Nut, its fortified peanut butter shipped globally to nourish children with acute malnutrition.  

  • The Chobani peanut butter flavored spreads can be found at major supermarkets nationwide and online. For babies, the line includes an apple and peanut butter flavored nut and fruit blend, and a banana and peanut butter flavored nut and fruit blend. For older children and adults, there are plain peanut butter, chocolate and peanut butter, and cookie dough and peanut butter flavored spreads.

  • Chobani, which filed a confidential registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a potential initial public offering in July, has been rapidly moving into other categories such as nondairy oat milk, dairy- and plant-based creamers, ready-to-drink coffee and plant-based probiotic drinks

Dive Insight:

While Chobani put itself on the map by making Greek yogurt a household name, it’s hardly been sitting still as it moves aggressively to transform itself into a broader food company. The launch into oat milks, creamers, probiotics and other categories, along with expansion outside the U.S., has shown the Chobani name can stretch beyond yogurt.

“I don’t think we were attempting to prove that the brand can stretch with these peanut spreads — I think that’s already been proven,” Peter McGuinness, president of Chobani, said in an interview. “There is nothing random about this [new product]. This is a very deliberate thing around an important issue we care very deeply about.”

A major part of Chobani’s brand extends beyond the product itself and into the community where the company has worked on issues like helping farmers, protecting the environment, combating hunger and honoring veterans, oftentimes through the launch of limited-edition products.

Chobani became familiar with Edesia Nutrition after the latter participated in its incubator program designed to help companies bring better food to more consumers.

The latest peanut butter launch straddles both its efforts to expand the Chobani name to other parts of the grocery store and building out its philanthropic efforts. Chobani, with more than $1.5 billion in annual revenue according to Bloomberg, certainly has a strong enough financial base to help with such product launches.

The popularity of the Chobani name no doubt makes expanding into newer categories less risky since the New York company follows the same better-for-you roadmap and shoppers know what to expect.

“This is conscious capitalism with some altruism in there, and I think doing good is good for business,” McGuinness said. “And yeah, there is an unintended consequence of us branching out or more consumers seeing us or liking us, and that’s great, but that’s not the reason” behind this product.

Chobani’s upcoming IPO is expected to value the company at roughly $10 billion, according to some estimates. The cash Chobani raises likely will go at least in part toward its product innovation efforts.

McGuinness said Chobani sales are “doing great” in categories such as oat milk, creamers and yogurt. “We couldn’t be happier with our business this year,” he said.

Even though the recent product launches span different categories, Chobani has consistently eschewed GMOs and artificial preservatives and embraced natural ingredients. As consumers look to eat and drink healthier, a trend that has gained momentum during the pandemic, companies like Chobani stand to benefit.

But a major part of brand recognition now goes beyond the product itself, and Chobani no doubt has benefited from its work outside its corporate walls.

A 2019 survey conducted by Crestline Custom Promotional Products showed 68.3% of American consumers want to support companies that share similar social, political and environmental values.

As consumers get inundated with new offerings from both large CPGs and scrappy upstarts, finding ways to stand out from the pack becomes increasingly important. Chobani is not the first company to debut peanut butter, with brands such as Jif, Skippy, Justin’s and private label among those appearing on store shelves, but the Chobani name and product attributes should be enough to help it make inroads in the category despite its late start.

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