Source: Australian Trade and Investment Commission – Austrade
25 November 2021
US food maker Chobani has found a home in Australia. Here, it is a mainstay of the community, sourcing raw ingredients and packaging from local suppliers where possible, providing jobs for residents, and contributing to charitable programs.
Chobani, Australia’s number one brand in the yoghurt category[i], is based in Dandenong South, a thriving local manufacturing hub in Victoria.
‘Chobani was founded on the belief that people have great taste,’ says Lyn Radford, Managing Director, Chobani Australia. ‘They just need great options.’
It’s this idea that brought the US food maker to Australia in 2011. Here, the company found a home in a country passionate about food. Australia also happened to make some of the best milk in the world.
‘Australia has a wealth of riches in food quality,’ says Radford. ‘It’s a gold mine of ingredients, especially high-quality milk.’
Sourcing raw ingredients from Australian farmers
When Chobani set up in Australia, it initially needed to import finished products from the US. But founder Hamdi Ulukaya knew establishing local supply and production capabilities was essential.
Today, wherever possible, Chobani Australia sources raw ingredients and packaging from Australian suppliers. This supports local manufacturing and agricultural industries.
All Chobani and Gippsland Dairy yoghurt sold in Australia is produced in Dandenong South. The company uses fresh milk sourced direct from Victorian farmers.
As Chobani ventures into the growing plant-based milk market, local supply chains remain key.
‘We’re working hard to set up our factory with the infrastructure to manufacture and produce oat-based products locally,’ says Radford. ‘We are fortunate to have a wealth of quality oat flour on our doorstep. Australia is a world leader in the production of high-quality milling oats.
‘Austrade has been a great help for us in this space, helping us source local oat suppliers.’
New year, new manufacturing facility
Chobani is expanding its Victorian production facilities next to its current site. Scheduled to open in mid-2022, the new development will increase Chobani’s footprint by more than 100%. It features 21,000+ sqm of dedicated storage, production and office space.
It also includes a state-of-the-art pilot plant dedicated to research and development. ‘Investing in innovation is critical to Chobani’s growth,’ says Radford. ‘Innovation has not only enabled us to grow our company and our workforce but has had flow-on benefits for our supply chain.’
‘Manufacturing is vital to the Australian economy,’ says Radford. ‘As Chobani transitions into a modern food company and expands beyond the dairy category, we are committed to not only growing our own business operations, but also strengthening the industry.’
An active member of the local community
At Chobani, it’s always been about more than yoghurt.
The company looks to give back wherever possible. For instance, it produces fresh yoghurt for Australia’s largest food relief organisation, Foodbank, every week. It has donated more than 11 million meals to Australian families since 2012.
Chobani also supports the Breakfast Club at Dandenong South Primary School. It donates Chobani yoghurt and fresh fruit every week and provides volunteers to help serve breakfast to students.
Chobani has also run an incubator program to mentor local, socially responsible food startups. In 2018, the company took participants through all aspects of its business to give them the expertise to scale up. They also received a small, equity-free grant to kickstart their journey. Radford notes that since completing the program, many participants have continued to innovate and excel. Many of them have secured major deals with Australian retailers.
‘As a values-led business, Chobani Australia believes the most important thing it makes is a difference,’ says Radford. ‘By volunteering our time, donating our products, and supporting impactful charitable projects and programs, we are strengthening the communities we call home.’
Expert advice from Austrade
Radford is grateful for Austrade’s continued support, especially its expert advice on future opportunities.
‘We were particularly grateful for Austrade’s support with our Foreign Investment Review Board application for our site expansion last year,’ she says.
‘A temporary change in foreign investment regulations in March 2020 threw a curveball at our plans. It was fantastic to have the advice and support of Austrade throughout the process. It made sure our project stayed on track.’