December 20, 2013
AUSTIN, TexasWhole Foods Market, Inc., the retailer of natural and organic foods, has sought to distance itself from speculation that it is phasing out Chobani Greek yogurt because the brand contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
"While we will be phasing Chobani Greek yogurt out of our stores, it is not because of the line's possible GMO content," Whole Foods said in a statement that was reported in The Washington Post.
On Dec. 18, The Wall Street Journal broke the news that Whole Foods and Chobani were separating.
In an updated statement that the Post cited, Whole Foods explained its reason for phasing out Chobani, the popular Greek yogurt.
"As is the case with any saturated product category, Whole Foods Market challenged our Greek yogurt suppliers to create unique options for shoppers to enjoywhether it be exclusive flavors, organic choices or non-GMO options," said the company, which previously announced plans to require that all labels in its U.S. and Canadian stores specify by 2018 whether food contains GMOs. "At this time, Chobani has chosen a different business model, so we will be phasing Chobani Greek Yogurt out of our stores in early 2014 to make room for choices that aren't readily available on the market."
Chobani states that its yogurt is only made from natural ingredients. But according to POLITICO, the company sources dairy from cows that are fed grain that has been genetically modified.
Chobani appeared to be taken off guard by Whole Foods' decision.
"Why would you phase out the No. 1 Greek yogurt brand in America," Peter McGuinness, Chobani's chief marketing officer, asked in an interview with POLITICO. "I don't know the answer to that question, but the Greek yogurt category is now booming and it's very competitive."
Whole Foods' decision isn't going to have a huge impact on Chobani's bottom line. McGuinness told POLITICO the retailer comprises only 0.5% of Chobani's sales.
Still, Whole Foods can certainly help promote a brand. The natural and organic foods retailer operates 370 stores, and fiscal year 2013 sales totaled roughly $13 billion.
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