TWIN FALLS • The world’s largest yogurt factory is about to get bigger.
Chobani says it is incrementally investing nearly $100 million into its Greek yogurt plant in Twin Falls. The decision aims to fuel momentum as the company continues to expand into new areas.
As reported in the Times-News March 10, the company will begin producing yogurt-based dip and drinkable yogurt products this summer in the Twin Falls factory. The new products come on the tails of success with its Flip products. New equipment for those products is a part of the major expansion initiatives, the company announced Wednesday evening.
“Building the largest yogurt manufacturing plant in the world and expanding it three years later is a really proud moment for us and an example of how right it was to pick Idaho as our second home,” Hamdi Ulukaya, chairman and chief executive officer of Chobani, said in a statement.
“Our success in Idaho and New York is an example of the power and strength of U.S. manufacturing. To food companies like ours, it’s a signal of the momentum of the food movement that we started: better food for more people.”
The city granted Chobani’s building permit Feb. 26 for a nearly $7.9 million addition of packing and filling rooms to the east side of its facility at 3450 Kimberly Road. The application had been submitted just 10 days before approval, and the company paid more than $82,000 in fees.
Chobani said it will also build a global research and development facility for its existing Twin Falls scientific team, office expansions to accommodate current and future employees and an employee cafeteria.
The company will purchase and convert three production lines for its Flip products, its fastest-growing yogurt platform. Also planned are a new production line and a new bulk production line for food-service opportunities to drive growth in schools, hotels, airlines and restaurants.
In February, McDonald’s restaurants in Southern California partnered with Chobani to add Greek yogurt options to its menus, using yogurt produced in Twin Falls.
Chobani also plans to launch products from the facility to new international markets, including Mexico and Puerto Rico, in the second quarter of this year.
“The kind of success that Chobani is experiencing in the Magic Valley is setting a great example of regional collaboration between employers and community leaders throughout Idaho,” Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said in Chobani’s statement. “And it has economic development leaders all over America standing up and taking notice of what Idaho has to offer.”
Chobani’s Twin Falls plant now employs more than 1,000 people. Nearly 100 of those were hired in the last half of 2015.
From its first day, Chobani said it had plans for future growth in Twin Falls. When the $450 million facility opened Dec. 17, 2012, Vice President of Sales Kyle O’Brien said it would likely not be the last time Chobani looked to the Magic Valley for expansion.
The yogurt factory took up just 22 of the company’s 200 acres of Twin Falls property and was up and running less than a year from its groundbreaking. Chobani originally proposed hiring 120 employees in Twin Falls but quickly hired more than 300.
Within a year of opening, the building had reached optimal capacity, going from three lines and 100,000 cases per week to 12 lines and more than a million cases per week.
When it opened, Chobani produced three product lines at the Twin Falls plant: Flip, Champions Tubes and Bite. It saw 25 percent top-line sales growth in the first two months of 2016 compared with last year.
Tippman Construction of Fort Wayne, Indiana, was listed as the general contractor on the permit for the addition.
The company is also exploring plans to expand its original plant in Central New York, its statement said.