Ex-wife: Chobani founder swiped recipe from competitor

Times-News (Twin Falls)April 6, 2014 

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With Gov. Butch Otter right behind him, Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya talks about being a daredevil of sorts.

KATHERINE JONES — kjones@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya allegedly bribed a former employee of a rival company to swipe the formula for Greek yogurt, say court documents filed by his ex-wife in a New York State court.

Ayse Giray and Ulukaya have been locked in a bitter court battle for years over Giray's contention that she owns more than half of the yogurt business, which Ulukaya refutes.

Giray says the yogurt mogul repeatedly bragged that he “traveled to Europe” to meet an ex-Fage yogurt employee, whom he paid 30,000 euros for that company's recipe, according to court documents first reported Friday in the New York Post.

The 9-year-old New York-based company now dominates the American yogurt industry. It opened its largest plant in Twin Falls in 2012.

A Chobani spokesman told the Times-News on Friday that Giray's claims "are completely baseless and without merit."

A source close to the story said Friday that the process, ingredients and recipes used to make Fage and Chobani yogurt are distinctly different and result in dissimilar products.

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