ST. ALBANS – Chobani, the second-largest yogurt producer in the U.S., launched Monday a series of oat-based yogurts as a part of a larger bid to differentiate itself as yogurt sales continue to slide nationally.
In switching to oat products, Chobani joins Danone-owned Silk, which launched its own brand of oat milks earlier this year after markets saw overall sales for soymilks slouch last year.
According to Nielsen data, nondairy alternatives have seen their market share grow by 23 percent over the last four years, while traditional dairy continues to see sales decline in the U.S.
Market observers partially cited pressure from nondairy alternatives in Dean Foods’ recent filing for bankruptcy. Dean was the largest processor of fluid milk in the U.S.
Greek yogurt, Chobani’s flagship product that helped kickoff a yogurt sales boom nationwide, saw its market share dip last year, even as Chobani reportedly saw its sales grow.
The introduction of oat-based products comes after Chobani also promised to partner with the Fair Trade USA’s Milk Matters campaign earlier this year, agreeing to source milk from farms meeting certain ethical standards for their livestock and farmworkers.
According to market observers, the transition to ethical sourcing could allow Chobani to stand out in the market.
The Milk Matters agreement, according to Fair Trade USA, would see Chobani pay participating farms a premium for their milk in exchange for farms meeting certain standards for workers, animals and the environment.
“Dairy farms are the backbone of the communities we call home, but the current model is broken and it’s leaving consumers questioning everything, including the treatment of animals, farmworkers and the land itself,” Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya said in a statement. “We all have responsibility to support the farmers who make our business and our vision possible.”
Much of Chobani’s milk is sourced from the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national cooperative that merged with the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery earlier this year.
The merger, and Dean Foods’ recent bankruptcy filing, comes as farmers and processors continue to wrestle with a years-long dip in milk prices that continues shuttering dairy farms nationwide.
According to Chobani’s website, the yogurt producer will source its oats from organic farms in Saskatchewan, Canada.