Coconut lovers, yogurt enthusiasts, and the severely lactose intolerant, have I got news for you. Chobani has launched non-dairy yogurt. Except don't actually call it yogurt, because Chobani wants to make clear that yogurt is dairy and Non-Dairy Chobani is not. (More on that below.)
The new products are coconut-based and, like yogurts, still contain probiotics. The brand will be releasing nine new non-dairy items in January including single-serving cups in blueberry, peach, Slightly Sweet Plain, strawberry, and vanilla, and single-serving drinks in mango, Slightly Sweet Plain, strawberry, and vanilla chai. The products don't include any artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, GMO ingredients, lactose, gluten, or soy. The brand describes them as "cultured organic coconut purees" and the base of the recipes is a "cultured coconut blend" made of water, coconut, tapioca flour, agar, and cultures. A full list of ingredients for each of the different flavors can be found here.
The Founder and CEO of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, says the Non-Dairy Chobani "isn't a replacement to dairy, but it's a game-changer for plant-based products." A press release about the new line also notes that the brand is pushing for "transparency in dairy and clear distinctions between milk-based foods, such as yogurts, and other options like our Non-Dairy Chobani cultured organic coconut purees." Which is to say that while those who eat yogurt might eat Non-Dairy Chobani the same way (ex. with granola) or for the same reason (ex. to have probiotics at breakfast), Chobani doesn't believe it should actually be called yogurt because it's not dairy.
This is Chobani's first foray into non-dairy non-yogurts, but it's not the first popular yogurt brand to go debut a plant-based product. Stonyfield Farm has organic dairy-free yogurt (which it does call dairy-free yogurt) that is made with soy milk and comes in four flavors: vanilla, strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry.
There are also a number of brands that exclusively make non-dairy products that have "yogurt alternatives". So Delicious' are coconut milk-based and come in flavors including Passionate Mango, Pineapple Brulée, and Key Lime. Non-dairy milk brand Silk also has yogurts that come in both soy and almond-based varieties and flavors like Peach & Mango, Dark Chocolate Coconut, and Mixed Berry.
While non-dairy yogurt alternatives are a clear choice for anyone who doesn't eat dairy by choice and is craving yogurt, they're also great for those who are lactose intolerant. According to WebMD, with yogurts with live and active cultures the "bacterial cultures can help break down the lactose," but that still might not be enough for everyone with a sensitivity. On top of that, as Romper points out, for anyone with a dairy allergy, kids included, these alternatives are important. Avoiding dairy can also reduce one's carbon footprint. (That said, buying single-serving containers doesn't help there.)
But, regardless of why someone wants to try out a dairy-free yogurt, it's clear that they are something many different people are interested in for a variety of reasons. And if you're just into them because of the flavors, that's fair, too.