Chobani is a name synonymous with Greek Yogurt. The company took the yogurt category by storm less than 10 years ago and since then has had a positive impact on consumption in America. The US is still woefully behind Europe, but today more Americans than ever are consuming yogurt.
Chobani is trying to diversify its product portfolio and maintain growth, but could it have become too big for its own good? Chobani recently launched a new 100-calorie yogurt line, called “Simply 100” aimed at dieters. Short of saving humanity, this product supposedly has it all:
Only Natural Ingredients • Good Source of Bone Building Calcium • No Artificial Flavors • Excellent Source of Fiber • Excellent Source of Protein • No Artificial Sweeteners • No Preservatives • Made With Milk from Cows Not Treated with rBST* • Includes Live & Active Cultures • 3 Types of Probiotics • Gluten Free • Safe for People with Corn, Nut and Soy Allergies • Kosher Certified • Vegetarian Friendly • Less than 5% Lactose • Nothing But Good
Before we go into the details, we’d like to get something off our chest: We hate-100 calorie products. They suck because the manufacturer has to either shrink the serving size or to use artificial sweeteners, fillers, or whatnot. All of this effort to reach some arbitrary magic number for dieters.
Now back to Chobani. Its standard Greek yogurt has 140 calories. Since Greek means strained yogurt, it is also high in protein and therefore a very filling snack. So you don’t really need to worry about the calories because it will keep you satiated nicely.
Now let’s take a look at what Chobani’s “Simply 100″ is offering:
1. SIZE CHEAT. The first thing you may notice is the smaller serving size. Instead of a 6-ounce cup, the Simply 100 pack has only 5.3 ounces (13% less yogurt). If the original Chobani was this small, it would have 120 calories.
UPDATE: Chobani’s original yogurt is also 5.3 ounces. It used to be 6 ounces, but has since shrunk…
2. UNNATURAL SWEETENERS. Here is the Simply 100 ingredient list (Strawberry flavor):
Nonfat Yogurt (Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, Live and Active Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei), Chicory Root Fiber, Water, Strawberries, Natural Flavors, Evaporated Cane Juice, Strawberry Puree, Pectin, Locust Bean Gum, Fruit and Vegetable Juice Concentrate (For Color), Monkfruit Extract, Stevia Leaf Extract.
In order to reduce calories, Chobani decreased the sugar content from 19 grams to 7 grams. The 12 grams is equivalent almost 50 calories. This seems like a nice savings until you realize that stevia and monk fruit extract have been added. While these sweeteners may be extracted from natural sources, they go through a significantly unnatural extraction process that includes many chemicals. Claiming “only natural ingredients” is a wild stretch. Why not simple reduce the overall sweetness of the product? One of the biggest challenges dieters have is their sweet tooth. Why keep catering to it with an overly sweet yogurt?
3. FAKE FIBER. Yogurt is not a source of fiber. And it shouldn’t be. It stands up well on its own with protein, calcium, and other nutrients. But in order to make this product even more appealing to dieters, Chobani added 5 grams of inulin, a type of fiber that comes from chicory roots. There is more inulin here than strawberry! While technically natural, nobody can consume so much inulin from a chicory root at one sitting. Our gut requires many different types of fiber in order to properly function. Manufacturers are all adding inulin because it is cheap and easy to add to foods. This is not a tactic we would expect a company like Chobani to adopt.
4. FOOD COLORING. Since such a small amount of strawberry is used, Chobani is compelled to add some red into the mix. True, it is using natural colorings, but it implies that there is more fruit in the yogurt than there truly is.
For its Simply 100 product line, Chobani has copied the playbook of several of its largest competitors. These little tricks played on consumers will end up tarnishing its image as a pro consumer and pro health brand.
What to do at the supermarket
Stick with plain, unflavored yogurt. Add your own strawberry. Be healthy.