About two hours east of Boise is the world’s largest yogurt factory.
The Chobani Greek Yogurt factory is the city of Twin Falls, and it was the focus of tonight’s Idaho Life segment on KTVB news.
Chobani has been great for the community and is helping establish beneficial programs within the Twin Falls area.
Yogurt has been made the same way for more than a thousand years: milk is fermented, whey is filtered from the curds, and so on and so forth. At the Chobani Greek Yogurt facility in Twin Falls they don’t do it much differently; they just do it on a much larger scale.
In 2012, Chobani expanded its foothold on America’s yogurt industry when the company built the world’s largest yogurt plant on 200 acres in Twin Falls. It took 2,000 workers less than a year to build the massive facility, which, at one million square feet, is big enough to fill 20 football fields.
It also stands as an extension of its founder, Hamdi Ulukaya.
“Hamdi always says if we cannot do it great we don’t do it at all,” said Kai Sacher, vice president of research and development for Chobani. He says things have changed a lot since the company started in 2007. Like back then they had only 12 flavors. Now they have 60.
In the process, Chobani has cornered the market on Greek yogurt in the United States, securing nearly a billion dollars in sales annually.
Built in 2012, the Twin Falls Chobani plant is the When Chobani started in 2007, they had just 12 flavors. Built in 2012, the Twin Falls Chobani plant is the Built in 2012, the Twin Falls Chobani plant is the Each day, dozens of trucks roll in to the Chobani factory Each day, dozens of trucks roll in to the Chobani factory.
And to make Greek yogurt you need a lot of milk. In fact, the Greek variety requires three times more milk than regular yogurt. So each day, dozens of trucks roll in to the Chobani factory carrying 8,000 gallons of local, hormone-free milk.
That is a big reason for the sheer size of the Twin Falls factory. They use several giant storage tanks that have the approximate combined capacity of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
In three years, Chobani’s Idaho operation has swollen to about 1,000 employees, making it the second largest employer in Twin Falls.
At some point during their shift, most of those workers will wind up in the 900-foot hallway that is the arterial axis of the superstructure. “It’s the main connection point from the offices, the [quality assurance] lab, the chemistry lab,” said Paul Casey, Chobani’s quality manager.
It takes three minutes to walk from one end to the other. Behind a door somewhere in the middle, you can find Ermin Masic, a supervisor in the sleeving department, and one of the plant’s original employees.
“We can sleeve 500 cups per minute on a single line,” said Masic.
So you see, it’s all super-sized here at Chobani. However, like yogurt itself, the company’s grand plan to change the eating habits of Americans seems philosophically simple.
“We are not a yogurt company,” said Sacher. “We are a food company making better food, all natural food. That is our company. And that’s where I think we are very different from the big guys.”
Believe it or not, the facility has the capability to double the amount of yogurt it produces.
As a way to say “thank you” to the entire Twin Falls community, Chobani is having a Greek Yogurt give-away. Anyone who stops by the College of Southern Idaho Fine Arts building on Saturday, December 5, from 9 – 11 a.m., will get a free case of yogurt.