NEW YORK, Dec. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Rabobank, the leading global food and agribusiness bank, announced it has named Chobani as the winner of its 2012 North America Innovation in Leadership award for Chobani's groundbreaking contribution to the U.S. yogurt sector. Grace Simmons, vice president of strategic initiatives for Chobani, accepted the award on behalf of Chobani at Rabobank's recent Commodity, Corporate, and Trade Finance Forum.
The Rabobank award for Innovation in Leadership recognizes a company in the bank's North American Wholesale client portfolio which has demonstrated exceptional ability and resourcefulness in implementing new ideas and business practices, or applying existing ideas and practices in new ways, that contribute significant value to the company and/or its industry. The 2012 award honors Chobani, a Rabobank client, for the transformational impact of its practices on the U.S. yogurt industry and its success in redefining an established market to advance its own business and the overall yogurt category.
Rita Keskinyan, Managing Director at Rabobank, said, "We are very pleased to name Chobani the recipient of our inaugural Leadership in Innovation award. In a sector historically dominated by global giants, Chobani – led by its visionary founder, president and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya – clearly evidences that a singular focus on the consumer and an organizational culture which thrives on innovation can be powerful drivers of a meteoric rise to market leadership. Rabobank is proud to have helped Chobani make its first strategic international expansion with the acquisition of Bead Foods in Australia, even as its remarkable take-off began in North America."
"At Chobani, innovation is at the core of everything we do – from research and development to the way we build our production facilities and cultivate our employees," said John Heath, vice president of new ventures and innovation at Chobani. "We're honored to have been chosen for Rabobank's 2012 North America Innovation in Leadership award for superior innovation in the consumer products industry."
Rabobank's 2nd annual Commodity, Corporate and Trade Finance Forum, held the last day of November, is a one-day strategic think tank that brings together industry leaders in business, finance, academia, and consulting to examine key strategies, trends and challenges in the food and agribusiness, consumer and food retail, and energy sectors – the bank's areas of focus in North America. Keynote speakers this year were Dr. Willy C. Shih, Professor and U.S. Competitiveness Project Faculty member at Harvard Business School, and Dr. Laurie Santos, Director of the Comparative Cognition Laboratory at Yale University.
"Regaining America's edge in manufacturing will require company-level decisions that reinvest in new product and process development in the U.S. industrial sector, as Chobani has done," said Professor Shih, co-author of Producing Prosperity: Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance. "Only by reviving this 'industrial commons' can America build the expertise and manufacturing muscle to regain competitive advantage."
Also at this year's Forum, Rabobank honored Professor Ray Goldberg, George M. Moffett Professor of Agriculture and Business, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School, with an award for Long-standing Partnership and Exceptional Contribution to Agribusiness.
Since hitting shelves in 2007, Chobani has skyrocketed to become America's number one-selling yogurt brand, igniting a yogurt revolution in the United States. All the while, Chobani has never wavered from its founding philosophy: to make great-tasting, high-quality products available for everyone. As Chobani flourishes, so do its local communities: Chobani is committed to using milk from surrounding area farms around its New Berlin, New York, Twin Falls, Idaho, and Dandenong, Australia, production facilities, driving local economic growth and revival.
Innovation and creativity within the food and agriculture industry will be critical in both emerging and developed markets to address the need to feed a global population of 9 billion by the year 2050, says Rabobank. In selecting the winner of its annual award for "Leadership in Innovation," Rabobank considers examples of innovation in the following areas: products or services, technology or systems, supply chain management, operating efficiencies, risk management, sales/marketing/distribution, and ethical leadership and responsibility.
Rajiv Singh, Head of Professional Products at Rabobank in the Americas, said, "While the banking industry is experiencing significant change and pressures on a number of fronts, banks remain key to enabling the flow of capital to the innovations and creative solutions that we need to meet the challenges of the 21st century, especially in reigniting the global economy. Banks now have a great opportunity to refocus: to support and invest in the real economy, to reconfirm the client's position at the center of our thinking and the way we measure our performance, and to support value-adding innovation in our customer base. Rabobank is committed to these ideas, which is why we have created this award to recognize and praise Leadership in Innovation for companies in our core sectors. The sign on Rabobank's headquarters building says "Imagine Being there" – we ask all of our clients to imagine where your business can be, and Rabobank can help you get there."
Rabobank Group is a global financial services leader providing wholesale and retail banking, asset management, leasing, real estate services, and renewable energy project financing. Founded over a century ago, Rabobank is one of the largest banks in the world, with nearly $1 trillion in assets and operations in more than 40 countries. In North America, Rabobank is a premier bank to the food, beverage and agribusiness industry and the renewable energy sector. www.Rabobank.com
Maker of America's #1 selling yogurt brand, authentic strained Chobani Greek Yogurt, Chobani was founded on the belief that people have great taste, they just need great options. That is why Chobani produces only the highest quality, best tasting products out of its New Berlin, N.Y. plant and its new one million square-foot production facility in Twin Falls, Idaho. As part of Chobani's nothing but good philosophy, it is committed to supporting local farmers and strengthening its surrounding area economies. Chobani uses milk from local-area farms and gives 10% of its annual profits to charities worldwide through the Shepherd's Gift Foundation, the company's charitable arm. All Chobani products are Kosher certified, made with milk from cows not treated with rBST and provide five live and active cultures, three strains of probiotics and two times more protein than regular yogurt. Chobani is available nationwide as well as in Australia, the UK and Canada. Chobani is pleased to offer consumers a variety of nothing but good products: Chobani Greek Yogurt and Chobani Champions. For more information, please visit chobani.com or connect with Chobani on Facebook at Facebook.Com/chobani.
Rabobank North America 2012 Award for Leadership in Innovation: Chobani, Inc.
Chobani was selected by Rabobank North America as the winner of its 2012 award for Innovation in Leadership based on the following:
- Challenging the Status Quo. In just five years, Chobani™ Greek yogurt has grown to $1 billion in annual revenue and, in the process, reignited the U.S. yogurt market as America's #1 selling yogurt brand. Where others saw the yogurt market as fixed to the "sweet" varieties traditionally sold in the U.S., Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya foresaw Greek yogurt's appeal to the everyday U.S. consumer on a mass scale.
- Word-of-Mouth. To get the word out and to compete against larger and more established yogurt brands, Chobani embraced a grassroots marketing approach, capitalizing on sampling, word-of-mouth recommendation and social media to build a consumer following.
- Broadening the Scope of the Brand. In 2010, Chobani expanded its product portfolio into the kids' yogurt segment with Chobani Champions, the first Greek yogurt for kids. In the last year, Chobani Champions has grown to be the 4th best-selling yogurt in the segment.
- Creating/Finding New Usage Occasions. Chobani saw an opportunity to educate consumers of the versatile uses for Chobani yogurt beyond a single-serving cup for breakfast. Chobani introduced Chobani Kitchen, which provides recipes that help consumers create delicious and healthier meals using Chobani yogurt. That has greatly expanded the way consumers view the brand.
- Planning for the Future. Chobani is constructing a new facility in Twin Falls, Idaho, scheduled to open in mid-December. Following a $450 million investment, the plant will greatly expand the company's production capacity, allow new product innovations to come to market, and at $1 million sq. ft., will be the largest yogurt plant in the U.S. Internationally, Chobani is available in the Greater Toronto area, acquired Bead Foods in Australia in 2011, and recently opened a plant in Dandenong, Australia to strategically grow both Australian and Asian markets.
- Giving Back to the Community. Chobani's charitable arm, the Shepherd's Gift Foundation (Chobani means 'shepherd' in Mediterranean languages), donates 10% of the company's profits to dozens of causes and charitable organizations in the U.S. and around the world.