EDMESTON – Chobani Zero Sugar is a new product that is drawing widespread popularity and acclaim from consumers and the company is focusing production at its plant in Edmeston.
“So it is only 60 calories, and it’s very unusual to get this much protein, 11 grams, that is incredible, it packs a lot of nutrition into 60 calories and there is no sugar in the product. Made right here in South Edmeston,” explained Chief of Corporate Affairs Cristina Alesci. “This product is truly innovative, there is nothing like it on the market."
She said many other products are advertised as no or low sugar because they do not add any sugar to the original product, but Chobani is actually reducing sugar from the natural product.
“There is no sugar and there is no ‘added sugar.’ This is zero sugar,” she said.
The new product has met a strong reception from the public and is a sign of how well Chobani has weathered the recent economic storms related to the pandemic.
“I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish here from a workplace standpoint. I think COVID made us realize how actually strong we are and how we can raise to meet any challenge because really it was one of the hardest challenges we ever faced,” said Alesci.
“There were so many unknowns at the beginning of the pandemic. Nobody knew what this virus was or how it was transmitted, nobody had a cure, nobody knew whether or not to shut factories down, if the food supply chain was going to remain intact, you had food processors shutting down because of outbreaks – we ourselves did not have one shutdown from the outbreak from the entire pandemic, and that’s because leadership mobilized right away to do the right thing and make sure we had temperature checks and contact tracing programs and giving people paid time off if they were sick,” said Alesci.
She said taking proactive steps was the right thing to do and good for business.
“The fact there are no shutdowns is good for business, we kept product moving to store shelves, that is great for business and it also aligns with keeping our employees safe,” said Alesci.
About 900 people work at Chobani’s Edmeston plant, with all but a few office-based employees working regular schedules.
Chobani Improvement Manager Emmanuel Foko said the company ships about 200,000 cases of yogurt a day at the local plant and have about four million cases at the factory at any give time.
Throughout the pandemic Chobani increased its community commitments and handed out more than 8 million free cups of yogurt to food banks, not counting other company donations.
“It’s really very amazing what we do here every day and that we have kept coming in every day to work,” said Foko.
Chobani remained profitable during the pandemic as shoppers, especially health conscience ones, bought more. Demand for foods people could make at home increased over the last year and Chobani saw interest grow for a number of their products, not just their famous yogurt.
“Many companies were paralyzed by COVID. We innovated and launched new products in the middle of the pandemic, we got coffee and creamers launched and we invested big in oat milk. We wanted to fulfill our customers orders on all those fronts,” said Alesci.
Early in the pandemic Chobani was aware of the need to be available for customers and invested significant resources in making sure they could get their brands to stores. The company wanted to avoid presenting customers with empty shelves.
Senior Director of Communications Jeffrey Genung also said, the company increased communication between the business and employees during the pandemic providing more internal updates and routinely sharing information to help keep staff included. As COVID recedes some of those improvements in communication have remained, leaving lasting improvement in the work environment.
“The changes in work environments, the employee part of it actually brought us closer together. We implemented so many technological things on an employee front, like I never used my web camera before COVID, and now I’m on a web camera all day long. We see each other a lot more, and are actually connected more in some ways,” he said.