How Chobani Billionaire Hamdi Ulukaya Spearheaded The Greek Yogurt Revolution | Forbes

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Billionaire yogurt entrepreneur Hamdi Ulukaya is known as the yogurt king. He is the founder of America’s most popular Greek yogurt brand, Chobani. Ulukaya grew up in a Kurdish dairy-farming family in Turkey and raised sheep. He eventually left to study political science at Ankara University.

Ulukaya, who grew up in a nomadic community in eastern Turkey, a mountainous region of the country where the main source of income is agriculture, said he was inspired to raise the standards at farms across the U.S. after one of his visits to Idaho, where Chobani has a 900-employee plant. He heard about the plight of undocumented workers, who make up about 50% of the dairy workforce in the U.S. Many of these workers dread daily tasks, such as traveling to a supermarket to buy groceries, out of their fear of deportation.

Ulukaya has long been known as an innovator and someone whose company supports refugees and immigrants. Chobani—known for its Greek yogurt—becomes the first in the U.S. dairy industry to be certified with the Fair Trade seal of approval. The certification, bestowed by a nonprofit trade group called Fair Trade USA, indicates that Chobani—a $1.5 billion (2020 revenues) company with 2,200 employees—has been working with U.S. farms and cooperatives to improve working conditions.

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