NEW YORK (The Street) -- Chobani largely created the recent craze for Greek yogurt but now finds itself having to defend its turf from deep-pocketed and well-connected rivals General Mills (GIS) and Danone (DANOY).
Their solution to the new competition? A barrage of new Greek yogurt-based products that meet different consumer needs.
"We are pushing the boundaries of Greek yogurt and how you consume it throughout the day," said Peter McGuiness, Chobani's chief marketing officer, in an interview at the company's café in New York City.
Chobani, which still boasts more than one-third of the U.S. market share for Greek yogurt according to data tracking firm Nielsen, is in the midst of introducing a host of new products that extend the thick and tangy yogurt beyond just a healthy breakfast snack. Think waistline-friendly Greek yogurt infused with peanut butter for dessert, or one with real coffee in it for a pick-me-up during lunch.
Over the next several weeks, supermarket shelves will start to be stocked with products such as "Peanut Butter Dream," Chobani's take on a Reese's peanut butter cup, and "Strawberry Summer Crisp," a flavor that resembles a bite into a strawberry shortcake. As for Chobani's new oats platform, it will gain seven new products, headlined by an oatmeal-inspired brown sugar raisin flavor.
"It's our take on oatmeal, in many ways we are trying to source from oatmeal, as instant oatmeal is a $1 billion category," McGuinness said.
The products will sport updated packaging that emphasizes health claims, part of Chobani's new "Love This Life" ad campaign. Packages will mention, for example, "Only Natural, Non-GMO Ingredients" and "40% Less Sugar than Regular Fruit Yogurt."
Highlighting its products' health claims could help the privately held company stay in the good graces of increasingly health-conscious Americans. The company received a $750 million investment from private equity firm TPG in April 2014.
With its new marketing and the creation of new occasions to eat its flagship product, Chobani is seeking to counter the effects of a sales slowdown in the red-hot category. After increasing by a double-digit percentage in recent years, sales of Greek yogurt slowed to a single-digit percentage growth rate toward the end of last year.
For 2015, some forecasts hint that growth in the Greek yogurt category could be nonexistent given the more crowded aisles, placing the heat on Chobani, General Mills and Danone to bolster their efforts to innovate.