Monday, June 26, 2017

Here's Why Big Food Should Worry About Chobani

We hear a lot about how there are all these extra ingredients in our grocery-market food – to make the food cheaper to package and store in the warehouse. Yeah, yeah. As long as it tastes good and isn’t packed with animal fat, salt and sugar, we’re happy. 

Cruising the natural food aisles, where the organic, healthy pasta, sauces and such cost twice as much, well that’s a luxury saved for that special meal or party. We can’t expect to eat that kind of food every day.

 Welp, I recently talked to a top exec at the massive yogurt maker Chobani and he says: Wrong!

Chobani is that New York company founded by a Turkish fellow who taught America what decent (Greek) yogurt is all about. Its chief marketing officer Peter McGuinness bristles with disdain toward the giant food companies we know so well, like General Mills and Nabisco. His point: food-making shortcuts are BS. Healthy should be affordable, and affordable food should be healthier. Indie startups, he believes, can lead the way.

Here are a few of McGuinness’ uncensored thoughts:

“At Chobani, we want there to be more good food for regular folks as opposed to the kind of crap that everyone can afford but that their bodies don't want. We want startups to be challengers, like us, in their respective categories, to able to go up against the behemoths.”

“The food industry, controlled by a few big entities, lags in both technology and innovation. Big Food uses artificial ingredients and preservatives that were introduced in the 1940s to preserve food for soldiers. But now, that is the lazy and cheap way to make food, and is totally unnecessary. To do without [those additives] you have to clean the factory more often. And if we can do it, with less of a budget than the big companies, then why can't they?”
“When big food companies invest in young food startups for a piece of the action, they are actually wolves in sheep's clothing. It may seem like they are helping the entrepreneurs but in reality, they marginalize the startup companies and often change the trajectory of the startups' growth. By taking equity, they are preying on entrepreneurs.” 

“Keep in mind, the big traditional food companies are in the startup business because their core business isn't growing and they need the startups’ ideas to redirect their product lines. But there are not enough startups in the world to stem the decline that the traditional food companies face.” 

The whole interview is here.
Speaking of thick yogurt, it’s the season for summer fruit and I’m crazy for fresh cherries, almonds and yogurt (including soy, coconut milk or rice milk yogurt for the non-dairy folks). Another favorite is yogurt with mango or papaya along with cashews. Oh and there’s always nice, shapely grapes (of course) with apples, walnuts and yogurt. Just skip the boring granola please—such a cliché.  

So keep an eye out for those upstart healthy foods creeping onto your grocery shelves. Then scout out your favorite summer fruit…and enjoy!

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