Chobani is making it easier for workers to get vaccinated. The dairy company announced that employees would be compensated for up to six hours to receive vaccine doses.
"Some people view this as an expense. We look at it as an investment," Chobani's President and COO Peter McGuinness told Cheddar. "We're making food to put on American tables, and I think the least we can do is make it very easy for them to get vaccinated."
McGuinness said the company especially wants to make sure it's more than 2,000 hourly workers can receive the vaccines. "We want them to be able to take time off work, any time, and get compensated for that."
McGuinness said the decision comes from a larger philosophy of supporting employees. It's a philosophy that he says has been behind several recent decisions by the company, including raising its minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour and giving employees the day off to vote. Chobani also offers compensation for childcare during the pandemic to help support it's hourly workers.
"From the very beginning we said look, the primary thing here is to keep our employees safe and supported throughout the pandemic so that we keep the factories running," said McGuinness.
Chobani isn't the only company making this decision, Trader Joe's and Aldi are among the companies that plan to pay employees to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
The company has also worked to support communities beyond its own employees during the pandemic. Chobani donated more than seven million cups, bottles, and cartons of food in 2020, three times the amount donated the year before, according to McGuinness. "We sent a truck a day to food banks," he said.
"I think how you behave in a pandemic matters, too," McGuinness told Cheddar. "How much profit is too much profit? Are you being piggish and exploitative? So we're trying to be good community citizens while we do this as well."
Looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, Chobani is still focused on innovation. "We're expanding beyond a yogurt company," said McGuinness.
Last week the company launched its first line of ready-to-drink cold brew. Almost a year ago the company launched its first oat milk product. "We're not chasing growth," McGuinness told Cheddar. "We're actually going into categories that we can disrupt, that are growth categories, while our base business is doing very well."
Yogurt consumption is close to an all-time high, up as much as 8 percent according to the company, citing an increase in demand for nutrient-dense snacks.