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May 10, 2012

Chobani Named Entrepreneur of the Year - Only Five Years Ago it Began with a Loan to an Old Kraft Foods Plant & a Dream to Make Gluten-Free Natural Greek Yogurt

On 2 May 2012 the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) named Greek yogurt maker Chobani "Entrepreneur of the Year." Chobani received the award for its fast growth in sales and employment in the United States and globally. 

Chobani yogurt was founded in 2007 by Hamdi Ulukaya with a small business loan and a dream. He bought a closed Kraft Foods plant in upstate New York and started with only five employees.

Today, the company has plans to open a new yogurt plant in Twin Falls, Idaho. When opened, this will be the largest yogurt plant operating in the United States. The current number of employees is 1,200 but this will increase when the new plant is finished. Until then, all operations continue to run out of the original factory located 50 miles south of Syracuse, New York.

Chobani factory in New Berlin, NY
purchased from Kraft Food in 2007
Photo: Chobani
Chobani, when it is spelled Chopani is the Greek word for shepherd. Founder Hamdi Ulukay was born and raised in Turkey and is the third generation to make Mediterranean food. Greek yogurt is not named as such because it comes from Greece, this is the name given to yogurt that is produced a certain way - using an ancient straining technique to remove excess liquid so that it is very thick with concentrated protein.  

Chobani is produced from milk that does not contain rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin), synthetic growth hormones. It is certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) as gluten-free because it does not use wheat, rye, or barley or other gluten-containing thickeners, gelatins, gum blends or stabilizers. It is also tolerated well by people with lactose intolerance issues because the probiotic cultures aid in breaking down lactose so it is more easily digested and the straining process removes 95% of the lactose from the final product.

For more see: "Yogurt maker Chobani wins SBA entrepreneur honor," Capital Press, 2 May 2012.



About Margaret


CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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