Chobani reinvented yogurt. Its next target is coffee

When Chobani started selling Greek yogurt in 2007, it upended the market. Now, it wants to do the same for iced coffee.

This week, Chobani is launching a new line of refrigerated, ready-to-drink coffees. The new product comes in four flavors: one black cold brew option, one with oat milk, one with sweet creamer, and another with vanilla. The drinks, which come in 32-ounce packages, are now starting to arrive at retailers including ShopRite, HyVee and Publix. Chobani is suggesting the price of $4.49 per carton.

The new line builds on Chobani’s previous investments. About a year ago, the company started making oat milk and creamers, an undertaking that required major changes to Chobani’s infrastructure: To make oat milk themselves, “we basically built a factory within a factory,” said Peter McGuinness, the company’s president and chief operating officer.

Coffee was a next logical step, he said.

Because of the changes Chobani has made for creamers and oat milk, it didn’t have to do that much more to be able to manufacture the ready-to-drink products, he explained.

Chobani has good reason to get into coffee. Ready-to-drink coffee “has been one of the fastest growing segments of the entire non-alcoholic beverage industry,” said Caleb Bryant, associate director of food & drink at Mintel. According to Mintel’s estimate, the US market is expected hit about $4 billion in 2020, up 7.6% from the previous year.

But it’s also a crowded market, and in launching its new product, Chobani will take on new, bigger competitors.

Among the options on the grocery store shelf: Starbucks sells ready-to-drink iced coffee, cold brew, Frappuccinos and espresso drinks. Dunkin’ sells its milky iced coffee. Beloved smaller brands like La Colombe have their own offerings.

And others are vying for customers with their own spin on ready-to-drink coffee: Rise brews with nitrogen, Kitu Super Coffee is optimized for a keto diet, and Java Monster is a coffee/energy drink mashup.

To develop an expertise in coffee, Chobani drew from what it learned at its Chobani Cafe in New York City, which sells cold brew coffee. It’s been iterating the product and testing it out with consumers as well, said McGuinness. The coffee is made with premium, medium roast Arabica beans.

The company is confident that its products will gain traction with customers, even though they have so many choices already.

“We love going against big legacy [consumer packaged goods] companies,” McGuinness said. “We did it in yogurt,” he pointed out. “We’re a challenger brand. We like to disrupt and give consumers better choices. So that doesn’t deter us, it excites us.”

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