In 2005, Kraft Foods decided to close its yogurt plant in South Edmeston, Chenango County. It shut down an 85-year-old dairy processing operation, threw 55 employees out of work and added a new chapter to the story of fading economic fortunes in Upstate New York.
Today, South Edmeston is the epicenter of the skyrocketing supermarket category of Greek yogurt. Since late 2007, the former Kraft plant about 60 miles southeast of Syracuse has been home to Chobani, the best-selling Greek yogurt in the United States.
If it were up to Ulukaya [CEO of the company, originally from Turkey], the product he makes might be called Turkish yogurt. But Greek was the name already attached to this variety, just a niche product in the United States five years ago.
“It could be Lebanese yogurt,” Ulukaya said. “This is how it’s made in these countries, in Turkey, in Greece, in Israel.”