Chobani Yogurt To Sell 20% Stake

Greek-style yogurt maker Chobani, which quickly eclipsed Greek companies making traditional Greek yogurt to become the biggest seller in the United States reportedly wants to sell a minority stake in a deal that could value the company at around $2.5 billion.

The New Berlin, N.Y.-based company is working with Bank of America as it considers selling roughly 20 percent of itself, and is speaking to consumer companies and private equity firms to gauge their interest, Reuters news agency said, citing sources that were unnamed.

Chobani previously held discussions with banks about pursuing an initial public offering, but changed its mind after its growth began to slow in the face of mounting competition from other Greek yogurt companies, the people said.

With Greek companies sitting still and not advertising, Chobani overtook them with aggressive marketing campaigns despite criticism that its yogurt isn’t as good as Greek yogurt.

Founded in 2005 by Turkish immigrant Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani started out of a former Kraft Food Groups yogurt plant in South Edmeston, N.Y., and grew into one of the top selling Greek yogurt brands in the United States.

The company suffered a blow in September after it was forced to recall moldy cups of Greek yogurt after customers complained that the product tasted runny and fizzy, and some reported illnesses.

And in December, Whole Foods Market said it would no longer sell Chobani yogurts starting early this year.

Greek-style yogurt, which is thicker, creamier and often higher in protein than other types of yogurt, now makes up more than 40 percent of the U.S. yogurt market, which is worth $7.4 billion according to research firm Mintel.