Image: Whole Foods Chobani: Grocer Will No Longer Carry Yogurt Brand With GMOs

Whole Foods Chobani: Grocer Will No Longer Carry Yogurt Brand With GMOs

Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 04:06 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Whole Foods announced Wednesday that it will stop stocking Chobani Greek Yogurt in early 2014 to clear shelf space for non-genetically modified food and organic brands.

"As the national demand for Greek yogurt has grown, the number of conventional Greek yogurt options has multiplied," Whole Foods said in its statement, according to ABC News. "Whole Foods Market challenged its Greek yogurt suppliers to create unique options for shoppers to enjoy — including exclusive flavors, non-GMO options, and organic choices."

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"At this time, Chobani has chosen a different business model, so Whole Foods Market will be phasing Chobani Greek Yogurt out of its stores in early 2014 to make room for product choices that aren't readily available on the market."

Chobani, the leading U.S. seller of Greek yogurt, has fielded consumer complaints regarding a product made with milk from cows fed with GMO (genetically modified organisms). Though a popular brand, it has also endured bad moments when it recalled some yogurt in September due to mold.

Whole Foods launched a March 2013 campaign to place labels on all products in their stores that contain GMOs, and hope to have this completed by 2018, according to the company's website. Whole Foods said it currently sells more than "4,800 Non-GMO Project verified products from 250 brands."

In response, Chobani said its products aren't organic, but use only natural ingredients.

"Though we have limited distribution within Whole Foods, they have been a wonderful and an important partner of ours over the years," Chobani said in a statement, published by The Huffington Post. "As the number one Greek yogurt brand in America using only natural ingredients, we share an affinity with Whole Foods and its shoppers. We know our fans love buying our products in their stores and we hope to continue our partnership moving forward."

A big beneficiary of Chobani's ouster is Stonyfield Farm's Brown Cow yogurt line, which began distributing to Whole Foods two weeks ago, chairman and co-founder Gary Hirshberg said. Hirshberg feels that consumers are making more informed purchasing choices.

"This is not anti-GMO, necessarily, this is pro-transparency," Hirshberg told Buzzfeed. "This is a mega-trend out there."

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