Before Chobani yogurt was launched in 2007, yogurt was often perceived in the United States as a functional or health food, rather than an enjoyable food that people could eat anytime. People often ate yogurt for its specific nutritional benefits or as a diet food. This was very different from how yogurt is consumed in other countries, where yogurt is actually eaten multiple times each day and used as a cooking ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes. One innovation that the Chobani engineer team developed to change this perception and draw attention to Chobani was a unique design for the Chobani yogurt cup.
Traditionally, the dairy aisle in U.S. grocery stores was lined with yogurt cups that were tall and narrow. This had been the standard for years, but the team at Chobani decided it was time for innovation. They went to work to develop a different yogurt cup design, and after doing a great deal of research and trial-and-error, they created the cup that everyone recognizes today: a wider, shorter cup that is more spoon-friendly. The shape mimicks the type of bowl used to serve yogurt in other countries where yogurt is a staple food.
Engineers at Chobani selected the material Polypropylene to make their cup. Although cheaper materials were available, this material was selected because it produced a crisp bright white color. The team at Chobani wanted their cups to stand out on the grocery shelves. Another benefit of using Polypropylene was its structural integrity. It is sturdy enough so you can hold the cup in your hand while eating the yogurt, and it is also easy to stack for shipment.
Another innovative feature that Chobani engineers developed as part of the cup packaging was the plastic labeling sleeve. Prior to the Chobani yogurt cup, graphics were printed directly onto yogurt cups. However, this direct printing technology resulted in dull colors and and low-quality graphics. Chobani engineers decided to use a new technique called Rotogravure to print the graphics onto plastic sleeves, which were then fitted over the yogurt cups. The Rotogravure technology enabled Chobani to incorporate professional quality photographs of fruits and other ingredients into their label designs. This printing technique was more expensive to implement, but the plastic sleeve with the bold graphics and sharp images on the bright white cup helped the product stand out on the shelves.
Chobani engineers could have used many materials for the lid. After careful consideration, they selected a heavier, more durable foil that conveyed craftsmanship and high quality, as well as functionality. The foil’s heaviness prevents it from flapping back down while the consumer is enjoying the yogurt, and and enables the consumer to reseal the yogurt for later consumption.
Beyond the Classic Cup
Chobani engineers continue to try to solve problems and improve the products using engineering design. It is important for the engineers at Chobani and companies around the world to continually assess and address the needs of their consumers by creating innovative products through the engineering design process.
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