What’s Inside “Chobani Champions” Greek Yogurt for Kids?

Chobani is a leading Greek Yogurt brand that is becoming more popular these days. We loved it from the first time we tasted it. Slightly tart, like all yogurts, but with a thick and creamy body and texture that wraps around the tongue. We are big fans of plain yogurt. Adding a tiny dollop of honey or date syrup for a sweet treat, or diced tomatoes and chives for a savory snack, this is probably one of the easiest and healthiest fast-foods in our house.

Many consumers must feel the same because the company is growing and expanding its product line. They started out with plain flavors, moved on to fruit added flavors, and now we’ve noticed a kiddie line added to the mix.

Chobani Champions comes in colorful packaging, smaller serving sizes, and kid friendly names – Verryberry, Strawnana, Honeynana, and Chocolate.

Let’s take a look inside the label…

What you need to know:

For starters, the ingredient list:

cultured pasteurized non-fat milk, cream, evaporated cane juice, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, natural flavor, locust bean gum, pectin, fruit and vegetable juice (for color). Contains five live and active cultures including S. thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. acidophilus, bifidus, L. casei.

Notice the third ingredient. It’s sugar. The sugar total per serving is 13 grams – just over three teaspoons. Since the serving here is only 4 oz, compared to 6 oz for the regular Chobani yogurt, we’re talking a lot of added sugar for a half cup. About one teaspoonful of sugar can be attributed to the lactose in the yogurt, and 2 teaspoons are added either as sugar or the berries. Since the sugar comes first in the ingredient list, it’s safe to assume that most of the sweetness does not come from the berries.

On the bright side, the colors are from natural sources – fruit and vegetable juices. And it’s got all those funny named bacteria that are good for us.

Sadly, and despite three different berry types that are supposed to be very flavorful, the company has added “natural flavor” to the mix. Couldn’t it come from the berries themselves?

Another unexpected surprise is the use of thickeners such as pectin and locust bean gum to firm up the yogurt. Greek yogurts have less liquid in them and are naturally thick. Perhaps it’s the juice from the berries and the coloring that needs to be gelled.

Nutritionwise, we’re looking at 110 calories and only 2% fat for this tiny portion.

What to do at the supermarket:

Bottom line: Be a kitchen champion. Buy the plain unflavored yogurt and add your own flavor – fresh or frozen berries, a teaspoon of honey, bananas, chocolate chips. Whatever. You’ll get all the goodness of greek yogurt without the food engineering and ingredients required to build the flavored versions.

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  • http://www.theslowcook.com Ed Bruske

    Indeed, that is a huge amount of sugar, the same, ounce-for-ounce, as in Classic Coke. Not healthy at all.

  • http://www.incyst.com Monika Woolsey

    I also wish they’d add vitamin D. Yogurt companies are getting away with the presumption on the part of the public that since it’s made from milk, it’s an equal exchange. It’s not. Not a single national brand of Greek yogurt except for Yoplait has it.

    Dietitians everywhere recommend it as being superior, yet they also want to get press time for being concerned about the vitamin D issue.

    Their true opportunity for making a difference, is to speak out about yogurt and get these companies to make this very simple change.

  • http://loveoats.blogspot.com/ Nicole

    LOVE this. Seriously, with ALL yogurts – people need to just go for the plain, low-fat good stuff, and add amazing fruits to it! The possibilities are endless, and it’ll fill you up longer, you’ll be more satisfied, a sugar high won’t come and go. Lovely.

  • http://www.livingitupcornfree.com kc

    Anything fortified with vitamin D contains GMO corn derivatives. Corn is used as the vitamin carrier as well as being present in the vitamin itself. I search high and low for dairy products that haven’t been messed with just do I can avoid the additives. Did you know your vitamin D fortified milk contains GMO corn oil? Even if you aren’t allergic to corn, you should be concerned with rancid vegetable fats undeclared in your dairy products. If you want more natural vitamin D just take fermented cod liver oil every day and stop encouraging food companies to include even more additives to the food.

  • Jason

    I’ve never heard of Chobani.

    I’d rather go with a a plain Greek style like Stonyfield (organic and Vitamin D free) and mix in some fresh or frozen berries (organic). You can skip the pectin, “natural flavors”, coloring, locust bean gum, and added sugar. You can put some cinnamon and vanilla in it if you so chose. Problem solved.

  • http://www.chobani.com Nicki Briggs, MS, RD

    I’m so glad Fooducate too the time to review our Champions product! And thanks for all of the great comments! As Chobani’s official dietitian I wanted to reach out about a few of the points made in this review:

    - The majority of sugar listed in our nutrition facts panel is naturally occurring as it takes three pounds of milk to make one pound of our yogurt. Additionally, we use real fruit so as you stated, some of this is also coming from the fructose found in the fruit. We then add a small amount of evaporated cane juice to lightly sweeten the fruit portion of the yogurt.

    - The natural flavor used in the fruit is added by the our fruit supplier. Since we use real fruit, it’s actually used to help the fruit maintain its freshness.

    - The pectin and locust bean gum are also only used in the fruit portion of the yogurt to help give the fruit some stability. Without this the fruit would have a soup-like consistency. Our yogurt is 100% authentic and made with only milk and cultures, which we then strain to give it its thick consistency.

    - Chobani Champions does contain 20% of the daily value for vitamin D, which is added to the fruit portion of the yogurt.

    I hope this demystifies the product a bit. Thanks again!

    • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Editorial Staff

      @Nicki – thanks for taking the time to address the issues, very few manufacturers do reach out in such a forthcoming manner to the blogging community.

      Some follow-ups to your follow-ups:
      1. can you state exactly how much sugar you add to the product in the form of evaporated cane sugar?
      2. natural flavor – so it’s not just a flavoring, it’s also a preservative? What is it?
      3. would you recommend for parents to go for your plain yogurt and add their own fresh fruit?

      thanks!

  • http://www.chobani.com Nicki Briggs, MS, RD

    @Editorial Staff
    Of course!
    1. While I don’t have an exact gram amount to report, I know that less than 10% is evaporated cane juice. The rest is naturally occurring.
    2. It’s a propriety blend from our suppliers; however, we can say that they’re a combination of essential oils, extracts, essences and natural aromatic ingredients from a variety of fruit, vegetable, spices and herbs.
    3. Of course that’s a great option. Champions was created to give parents an alternative to other kids’ yogurts on the market whose children won’t eat plain yogurt.

  • http://www.fooducate.com/blog Editorial Staff
  • erin

    Have you noticed that the ingredients on Chobani’s website list the berry blend before the evaporated cane juice? This is misleading.