USA – American food company specializing in strained yogurt Chobani is transitioning its Single-Serve Oat Blend yogurt from plastic into a paper-based cup as part of a company-wide initiative to improve the sustainability of its packaging.
Chobani’s paper cup is 80% paperboard, made from responsibly sourced and renewable material, the New York-based company said. The cup has a thin plastic lining to maintain product quality.
The new packaging, which took two years to develop, is expected to reach store shelves late this year, the company said.
“Is this going to solve everything in packaging? No, but it’s a step in the right direction,” said Peter McGuinness, president of Chobani. “It’s a … start to reduce our reliance on plastic. There is a lot more work” to do.
Chobani, which confidentially filed for an IPO in July, has taken notice of the sustainability push infiltrating the food and beverage space and updated some of its packagings.
The latest paper-cup innovation is the latest indication yet that the company is serious about its commitment to reduce its environmental footprint and foster a broader discussion over ways to make recycling easier across the U.S.
“You have to walk before you run,” McGuinness said. “But our absolute intention is to expand paper to other products in our portfolio beyond our single-serve oat blend yogurt.”
Overcoming challenges associated with paper
To develop the new packaging, Choban however had to overcome many challenges. Paper can leak, which creates food quality and safety issues.
It also can break apart on machines, wreaking havoc on expensive technology used to fill the yogurt containers.
In addition, paper is more costly to use than plastic, McGuinness said, but that gap should narrow for Chobani as it builds scale by transitioning away from plastic across its other products.
Giving consumers what they want
Food and beverage makers as a whole have struggled to find inexpensive alternatives to plastic that can handle temperature changes, moisture and keep products fresh.
But as consumers push for more environmentally friendly packaging, manufacturers have had little choice but to find alternative options.
Chobani’s new packaging across its portfolio could therefore pay big dividends as consumers place increasing importance on not only what they consume but also the material it comes in.
Chobani claimed it will be the only major U.S. food maker with a paper cup in the yogurt aisle, a factor that could help the brand going forward.
According to a study done during the pandemic by Schorr Packaging, 58% of consumers said they were likely or very likely to purchase food products in packaging that clearly states it is reusable or recyclable.