Chobani Yogurt Adding Jobs, Expanding Plant in US

Image NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, you go, or is that yogurt? I don't know, because whatever Chobani Yogurt is doing, it is certainly bearing fruit for Chobani. Company founder Hamdi Ulukaya says that Americans' taste for his slightly thicker Greek yogurt, with all the dizzying array of separate fruit compartment flavors, well, it is so big, he is going even bigger, plunking down more than $250 million into planned expansions across this country that will increase production from 1.5 million cases week to more than two million. And that could be just for starters.
Watch the latest video at <a href=""></a>
Mr. Ulukaya is here to explain what is driving this.

Health nuts or maybe just a very healthy economy? Which? What do you think?

HAMDI ULUKAYA, FOUNDER, AGRO FARMA: Both, really. Yogurt was a sleepy item -- we come from a Mediterranean diet. We know what yogurt should be. In Turkey, we eat a ton of yogurt always. But what we found out is...

CAVUTO: So it is a staple over there?

ULUKAYA: Yeah, it's a very -- it's part of every diet.

But in whole of Europe, it's the same way. But we found out was that the awareness for the yogurt here, the health of the yogurt here was there -- 90 percent of the people wanted to eat, but just not have good options.

So we said we going to make this pure, healthy, just simple product. And we are going to make it for everybody. It won't be something special just some high-end stores, but it should be available for everyone.

CAVUTO: But it looks different. You and I were chatting during the break here that it is very delicious yogurt. It's very good yogurt, but it just looks different, period. And I think that was part of the plan.

ULUKAYA: It was. It was. Really, when we started with five people in 2007, everybody in the plant, we came together and said, we want to make this a special cup. We want to design it right.

It is not only inside, the outside. We didn't have so much money to market it, so we had to make sure that the cup looked nice.

CAVUTO: Well, it's different. What do people do? Do they separately eat the yogurt and the fruit? Do they mix the fruit with it? Do we know? Is it a great mystery?

ULUKAYA: Well, in Turkey, we say every man has his own way of eating yogurt.

CAVUTO: Right.

ULUKAYA: It is a living word.

So many ways, breakfast, part of lunch, or part of a snack. Personally, I recommend not to stir it too much. Whatever you do, just don't...

CAVUTO: Don't stir it. So tacky. Well, that is what I do. So you would be very upset with me.

I'm wondering, though. Things have been picking up for you even in the bad economy here. And now that things are really picking up, you're doing all this plant expansion. Is that an expression of confidence in where America is going, or this is just unique to you and what you are doing?

ULUKAYA: You know, I would answer it this way.

I live in a small town called South Edmeston in Upstate New York. That's where the plant is. And we bought this plant. It was -- a big company was closing this plant in this small town. And it was old. It was a 100-years-old plant. And when it was closed, it was just a bad time.

And we lived through the whole thing to have that plant had been closed and 55 people losing their job to having almost 1,000 people at the same plant, having no milk, to almost over three million pounds of milk a day in the same plant.

The success is, everybody can make a cup of yogurt, but how do you make more? How do you make it a lot? And how do you supply the demand? And I think, when that comes, it becomes a manufacturing. We call ourselves a manufacturing company. We are a manufacturing company. I am a manufacturing guy, because our heart is our plant.

So, when it comes to plant, and you pay a lot of attention to plant, then it is not only the company. It is just the environment, the town, the people And then, you know, the state, maybe it comes into the picture.

I think, in our example, in that small town, where it was really bad to being really good, the success goes to company, to the farmers, to the community, to the town that we are in, and, actually, it goes to the consumer in the end.

So everything comes together, I think, if you have the right product in America. This could happen all the time.

CAVUTO: There are a lot of business success stories like you that are -- they're worried about taxes going up in this country, and how that is going to impinge on profits, and how it's just going to maybe turn this recovery into a dicey affair. Are you?

ULUKAYA: You know, anything that helps to invest back into the plants is where I am.

We have to invest back into our plants. That is what we did in South Edmeston. We are investing almost $125 million in New York state.

CAVUTO: Saw that.

ULUKAYA: This is to keep up for our current business expansion, but we are also investing almost $128 million in Idaho for our future expansions --

CAVUTO: No small, no small thing.

Well, thank you. It's a remarkable story, I was so hoping that you would be just really fat and obese and all. Unfortunately, you are not.

Read more:
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07