Chobani Inc., Norwich, N.Y., is bringing in a Nestlé SA veteran to be its second highest executive and add traditional industry experience to the fast growing Greek yogurt brand, reports announced this week. Last week, Tim Brown was the CEO of Nestlé Waters North America after nearly 30 years at the Swiss food giant, and headed a portfolio of brands such as Perrier, San Pellegrino and Poland Spring. Yesterday, March 7, Chobani announced Brown will join the company as president and COO later this month, according to Chobani's founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya.
"He's the perfect person to partner with me," Ulukaya said. Brown replaces private-equity executive Kevin Burns, who stepped down in December. Chobani reportedly began looking for a new president and COO last summer. The company has grown to more than $1.5 billion in annual sales since its yogurt first hit stores 10 years ago. It was instrumental in sparking the Greek-style yogurt craze in the U.S., attracting consumers with its products' creamier texture, higher protein and lower sugar content.
In January, Chobani overtook General Mills' Yoplait in total yogurt sales for the first time, with about 20-percent market share, according market research firm Nielsen.
Chobani reports that Ulukaya has no intentions to leave the company, and it hasn't discussed succession plans with Brown. "That's so far ahead of us," Brown said. "I'm excited for what Hamdi and I will do together."