Chobani names exec to expand presence in international markets

Dive Brief:

  • Chobani appointed Kenneth Bishop to the new role of senior vice president of international market development, while Tarkan Gürkan was named CFO after serving in the role on an interim basis. They will report to Kevin Burns, Chobani’s president and chief operating officer, who returned to the company earlier this year.
  • Bishop will help develop a strategy for Chobani’s expansion into international markets, the company said.
  • The appointments come as Chobani looks for new avenues of growth and continues to replenish its executive ranks following the departure of high-profile individuals in March.

Dive Insight:

Chobani burst onto the scene in 2008 with the introduction of its core Greek yogurt offering in the U.S., and for years seemed content with building and innovating the offering. Today, it holds a roughly 20% market share.

But the New York-based company has spent much of the last three years broadening its portfolio while capitalizing on the widespread popularity of the Chobani name. Its first foray outside of yogurt came in 2019 with the launch of non-dairy Chobani Oat milk. Since then, it has moved into milkcold brew coffeeprobiotic beverages and coffee creamers. Chobani, however, announced in April it would end production of its ultra-filtered milk after three months on the market.

While growth domestically remains a priority, Chobani is undoubtedly aware of untapped sales in other parts of the world where it lacks or has a minimal presence, or where its products have yet to amass the recognition they currently have in the U.S. Currently, Chobani manufactures and distributes products in the U.S. and Australia, and exports products to some countries in Asia and Latin America.

In picking Bishop to oversee its expansion, Chobani adds an executive who has extensive consumer goods and private equity experience, the company said. He has been helping other firms, including Facebook and Juul Labs, expand globally for more than 15 years. Although social media and e-cigarettes are far different products to sell than food, Bishop has likely amassed a deep understanding of shoppers in other parts of the world and knows how to get them interested in an item.

“With Tarkan’s excellent financial experience and Ken’s knowledge of international markets, I am confident we have the right leadership team in place to continue building on the positive momentum we are currently seeing in the business,” Burns said in a statement.

Chobani, which recently announced plans to pull its much-awaited IPO, has cited international expansion as a future growth opportunity.

In a November 2021 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Chobani noted it has “successfully established a leadership position” in Australia and has extended its presence in North America into Mexico and Canada, where “there is significant runway to expand our offerings.” International markets have been responsible for about 10% of the company’s net sales for the last several years, the document showed.

“International expansion is a large opportunity and can be a meaningful growth driver across our entire product portfolio over the longer term,” the company said at the time, before adding: “In the near term, we expect to focus on North America and Australia — markets we know well and where we have competitive advantages.”