How Chobani’s Founder Revived American Manufacturing & Became the King of Yogurt – SOLD OUT!
The founder and CEO of one of America’s no. 1 Greek Yogurt brand discusses the strategies that have catapulted Chobani into the upper echelons of the food industry.
In the 1990s Hamdi Ulukaya didn’t envision that one day he would be at the forefront of one of the hottest brands in America. Hamdi, a Kurdish immigrant who was raised in Turkey, came to the USA in 1994 for the same reason thousands of others do: to pursue higher education. In 2005, Hamdi came across a recently closed Kraft Foods plant and with the help of a Small Business Administration loan, he purchased the plant and officially started Chobani.
The rest, as they say, is history. Chobani became an instant success when it hit grocery shelves in 2007. Hamdi relentlessly focused on building the business and increasing production allowing a second plant in Idaho to open. In 2007, Greek yogurt was about 0.2 percent of the U.S. market. Today that market is over 50 percent with Chobani controlling over 50 percent market share.
From Chobani’s beginnings, Hamdi has always favored organic growth; and today, Chobani produces over 2 million cases of yogurt a week and has surpassed over $1 billion in annual sales. Forbes estimates Ulukaya’s net worth at $1.5 billion. Ernst & Young named him their 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year.
How did Ulukaya succeed? What are the challenges that he sees on the horizon? Will Greek yogurt fizzle out like other fads?
We’ll find out the answers when Hamdi Ulukaya joins HBSCNY for an exclusive conversation, moderated by CNBC’s Sara Eisen.
Hamdi Ulukaya founded Chobani in upstate New York in 2005 and launched Chobani Greek Yogurt in 2007. Less than six years later, it has become the No. 1-selling Greek Yogurt brand in the U.S. with more than a billion dollars in annual sales – making Chobani one of the fastest-growing companies in history. Led by his passion to democratize better food for more people, Hamdi’s vision for Chobani has effectively transformed an entire food category.
Sara Eisen joined CNBC in December 2013 as a correspondent focusing on the global consumer. In May 2014, Eisen was named co-anchor of the 10AM ET hour of CNBC’s Squawk on the Street. Previously, Eisen was co-anchor of Bloomberg Surveillance as well as a correspondent for Bloomberg Television, where she covered global macroeconomics, policy and business. During that time, she covered the European debt crisis, the tsunami aftermath and Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan. Prior to Bloomberg Television, she hosted the Bloomberg Radio program, On the Economy. She is the editor of Currencies after the Crash: The Uncertain Future of the Global Paper-Based Currency System published by McGraw-Hill in Jan. 2013. Eisen holds a master’s degree in broadcast journalism with a concentration in business reporting from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
Organizer: Hemali Dassani ‘99, Stelios Hatzakis ’11
Videographer: Todd Colburn