In November, Chobani announced that it would roll out a major product rebrand that had been in the works for about a year. The new packaging and label design was meant as both a celebration of Chobani’s decade on the national market, as well as an attempt to stand out in what had become an overcrowded yogurt aisle.
But about two weeks ago, the company started garnering feedback from consumers on Facebook about the changes—and not the kind it had hoped for. “This new packaging stinks,” wrote one customer. “No. I mean it literally smells bad.”
It turns out that coating on the sleeves on some of its yogurt cups was giving off an odor that Facebook commenters described as smelling like “dust,” “fish” “musty, damp, dirty,” “awful plastic smell,” and “chemicals mixed with dirt.”
Some of the more colorful and creative descriptions included “kind of like a sweaty athletic support on a summer day,” “reminded me of my mother’s old ashtray,” and “my poor lunchbox smells like death.”
Others reported that the aroma remained on their hands after holding the cup, and some worried about whether it was toxic.
“This is minor and rectified, but the point is one complaint is too many,” says Peter McGuinness, Chobani’s chief marketing, commercial, and demand officer. “We acted swiftly, and we were transparent about it.”
The company said that it “immediately made adjustments to the outside sleeve by reducing the amount of FDA-approved, food-grade coating and these are now on store shelves.”
Chobani responded to the complaints on its Facebook page by saying that it was looking into the issue, and assuring consumers that all of the company’s packaging was made with FDA-approved and food-grade material. McGuinness says that Chobani usually replies with a personal response within the hour and follows up by sending a handwritten letter, coupons for free yogurt, and a Chobani hat. “I don’t know of many companies that go this above and beyond,” he says. “That’s the Chobani way.”
Chobani told Fortune that an “extremely small percentage of its inventory was impacted.” McGuinness said that the problem was limited to specific code dates during a specific period of time and that “our own people have yet to smell a cup” with the issue.
Users complaining about the issue on Chobani’s Facebook page resided in at least 19 different states as well as Washington D.C.
Chobani took to Twitter last week to address the issue: