Press Release

Gillibrand, Hanna Praise New USDA Standard for Greek Yogurt

May 2, 2013

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and U.S. Representative Richard Hanna applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) finalization this week of a first-ever Commercial Item Description (CID) for Greek yogurt. 

Commercial Item Descriptions are product descriptions that describe the most important characteristics of a commercial product. They are official U.S. Government procurement documents that guide purchases of products, such as federally-funded school breakfast and lunch menu items. 

Previously, USDA Commercial Item Descriptions for yogurt did not differentiate between Greek and other types of yogurt. The new description specifically outlines specific Greek yogurt qualities such as being “high-protein” and “strained.”  

The announcement of a CID that defines Greek yogurt is essential to the new school meal pilot program being set up currently by USDA, which is supported by Senator Gillibrand and Representative Hanna. It will allow school districts in New York to specifically order Greek yogurt should they so choose, providing a boon of new business to Upstate yogurt producers like Chobani and the New York dairy farmers which supply the plant in Chenango County.  More than 90 percent of milk used to make yogurt at the New Berlin plant is produced by in-state dairy farmers.

“This is clearly the right decision, and I am pleased the USDA is making this distinction,” Senator Gillibrand said. “New York State is home to a strong and growing Greek yogurt industry that we absolutely should be connecting to our schools. Today, we are clearing one more hurdle to give our children better access to a healthy source of protein, while strengthening New York’s dairy industry.”

“Greek yogurt produced here in New York by companies like Chobani is unique and distinct from other types of yogurt in taste and nutritional value,” Representative Hanna said. “USDA’s decision to create a first-ever Commercial Item Description for Greek yogurt is a big step in the right direction to get more real Greek yogurt into our schools – as well as protect the integrity of a product that is creating jobs in upstate New York and keeping many of our dairy farms in business.”

New York is the top Greek yogurt producing state in the nation. An estimated 8,070 New Yorkers are directly employed by dairy manufacturers in New York, with total wages of $414 million which is a 14 percent increase from 2005. Opening up additional market opportunities for Greek yogurt not only provide consumers a healthy, nutritious food but also further encourages growth of this industry in New York.

More Information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

How are CIDs Prepared and Maintained?

CIDs are prepared by food technologists and nutritionists. Each CID undergoes review every five years, or when the market dictates. When CIDs are reviewed, they are revised to include changes to the product’s type or style, and other pertinent information.  Each CID is reviewed by manufacturers and other food service professionals to test their validity. If a CID is no longer in use by the food industry, it is canceled.

Market Research and Analysis

In cooperation with the food industry, Federal/State agencies, and other food service professionals, USDA gathers product information including common ingredients and buyer requirements before developing and finalizing a CID.