Charting Greek Yogurt's Amazing Rise

The explosion of Greek yogurt in the dairy aisle that we've all come to know and love wasn't always so. In fact, Greek yogurt only took over a major part of the yogurt market in 2009. So how did it get there? Read on to find out the five major steps in Greek yogurt's rise to the top.

  1. 2005: A guy decides to buy a yogurt plant. Despite Fage introducing the product to the United States in 1998, it wasn't until Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya got into the game in 2005 that Greek yogurt really took off. After receiving a post card about an abandoned yogurt plant for sale in upstate New York, he took a chance and bought the plant, despite no prior experience commercially making yogurt or even owning a business. Ulukaya spent the next two years rigorously testing hundreds of recipes and designing the perfect label for the product before launching in a small grocery store in Long Island in 2007.
  2. 2009: Stop & Shop and ShopRite start to carry Chobani. In just two short years, Chobani managed to land major accounts at two national supermarkets. Sales exploded from there and other groceries like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's got in on the craze. Greek yogurt went from being 1 percent of yogurt sales in 2007 to capturing 44 percent of the market in 2013.
  3. 2011-2012: Traditional yogurt brands like Dannon and Yoplait introduce their own Greek lines. Catching on to the extreme revenue potential, major yogurt brands couldn't ignore Greek yogurt's presence. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, which is exactly what Dannon and Yoplait did, cementing Greek yogurt's serious presence in the dairy aisle.
  4. 2013: Whole Foods drops Chobani. Whole Foods, the de rigueur supermarket of fashionable foodies, announced plans to stop carrying Chobani, the most successful producer of Greek yogurt, at the end of 2013. The organic supermarket had largely contributed to Chobani's high-end and natural image, but so many niche copycats sprung up that Whole Foods decided to stock non-genetically modified products, which Chobani is not. It's a sign of how popular the brand has become: that it's too mass market for a mass-market store.
  5. 2014: Yoplait, Dannon and Chobani battle it out at the Super Bowl. Super Bowl commercials are the ultimate in brand displays, and it's going to be an epic fight between the top Greek yogurt brands. Dannon has enlisted the Full House cast, Yoplait does a taste test brand comparison and Chobani enlists the appeal of animals. One thing's for sure: America will be watching.

The king of Greek yogurt. (Credit: Mike Groll/AP Photo)