Whole Foods To Stop Selling Chobani Yogurt, So Stock Up Now
In January, grocery store chain Whole Foods will stop selling Chobani, the freakishly popular yogurt brand, because the product may be made with genetically modified organisms. This move matters because it signals a shift in Whole Foods policy away from any tolerance for GMOs. Though Chobani markets its Greek yogurt as all-natural, consumer groups have complained that this is misleading because the yogurt is made with milk from cows fed genetically-modified animal feed. Do consumers really care? It seems Whole Foods is banking on it.
“As the national demand for Greek yogurt has grown, the number of conventional Greek yogurt options has multiplied,” Whole Foods said in a statement. “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.”
Chobani didn't fall in line. In a blog post, Chobani noted that it uses a large quantity of milk and there's not currently enough organic milk available. This isn't just a line — in certain areas, the market for organic products is outstripping demand. Finding animal feed that doesn't contain GMO ingredients can be particularly difficult, since more than 90 percent of corn and soy crops in the United States are grown from genetically-engineered seeds.
"We continue to stand by and work with the 875 farms that provide us with milk as they explore new feed options," Chobani said. "In the meantime, we’re ... using only natural ingredients and no preservatives, none of our non-dairy ingredients has been genetically modified, and our milk comes from cows that have not been treated with rBST."
Last spring, Whole Foods announced that it will start requiring labeling of all GMO products by 2018. As Wall Street Cheat Sheet points out, Whole Foods is known for being responsive to consumer group demands (for instance, it stopped stocking Hershey chocolate last year amid accusations that the chocolate maker used child labor). If the grocer thinks GMOs are bad for business, it makes sense to boot Chobani — it's not like there's a shortage of Greek yogurt makers these days (some even suggest that Chobani has simply gotten too popular and mainstream for the high-end grocer, which wants to make room for more obscure brands). But the science on GMOs is still flimsy, even as anti-GMO sentiment reaches a fever pitch. Of all the awful ingredients we do allow in the American food supply, this GMO hysteria seems somewhat misplaced.