What started in central New York just a few years ago is now one of the biggest and best things going on the planet.

The man behind Chobani Yogurt has been named this year's Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Hamdi Ulukaya received the honor at a ceremony in Monte Carlo this past weekend, beating out 50 other finalists from around the globe.

Ulukaya founded the company in 2005 in New Berlin, Chenango County, and within five years of his product hitting the market, its hit $1 billion in annual sales.

In December 2012, the company continued its expansion, opening the world's largest yogurt processing plant in Twins Falls, Idaho.

Officials Press Release from Chobani.com

Recognized for Shaking up the Yogurt Industry, Building a $1 Billion Global Brand in Five Years

Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of America’s No. 1 selling Greek Yogurt brand, Chobani, was named the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2013 Award winner on Saturday at a ceremony in Monte Carlo. Selected from a group of more than 50 country-winners from across the globe for this honor, Ulukaya was recognized for his disruptive innovation to bring wholesome food to the masses; regeneration of a long-stagnant category; financial success; and personal commitment to building a world-class brand.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award from Ernst & Young and in the company of such amazing fellow business leaders from around the world,” said Ulukaya. “What began as just my personal commitment to make delicious and nutritious Greek Yogurt accessible to everyone has turned into a 3,000-person-strong company serving three markets around the world. I look forward to our next 3,000 employees and sharing our food philosophy with even more consumers as we expand into new markets.”

Ernst & Young named Ulukaya the U.S. Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2012 Overall Award winner in November 2012 at its Entrepreneur Of The Year gala, the culminating event of the annual Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum® in Palm Springs, Calif. Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. Ernst & Young started the Entrepreneur Of The Year® Award program 27 years ago to recognize the world’s most successful and innovative entrepreneurs. By identifying and recognizing the achievements of outstanding entrepreneurs within successful growing, dynamic businesses, Ernst & Young aims to encourage entrepreneurial activity around the world.

“We work with great entrepreneurs at every level of society: fresh thinkers at global corporations, visionaries at pre-IPO firms and social entrepreneurs working on the world’s most pressing issues and unmet needs,” said Bryan Pearce, Americas Director, Entrepreneur Of The Year, Ernst & Young LLP. “These high-growth companies are thinking differently and disrupting the norm to create entirely new industries and categories. We are particularly excited to see this year’s World Entrepreneur of the Year winner from the U.S. – innovating an entire product category and propelling economic and job growth here in the states as well as abroad.”

After leaving his family’s dairy business in Turkey to learn English in the United States, Ulukaya recognized a gap in America’s dairy offering and saw opportunity in an untapped market of Greek Yogurt. Chobani was founded in 2005, and it took two years to perfect the recipe, with the first order shipping in 2007. Since then, Chobani has experienced a meteoric rise with annual sales rocketing to $1 billion in 2012.

To meet growing sales demands in the United States, Chobani updated and expanded an almost 100-year-old plant in Central New York, which uses nearly four million pounds of milk each day to produce two million cases of Chobani Greek Yogurt products a week. In December of 2012, Chobani opened the doors on its second U.S. plant to expand capacity and support new product innovations.  Built in Twin Falls, Idaho, this state-of-the-art plant — at nearly one million square feet — is the largest yogurt plant in the world.

In addition to a dominating presence in the United States, Chobani is also available in Australia and the UK.

Ulukaya’s inspirational story is redefining the historic mold of entrepreneurship and success. Chobani is 100 percent independent, with Ulukaya remaining the sole owner. This model supports his vision to create a company that is people-centered rather than profit-centered. The company he’s creating is lasting – in name and purpose; and is creating tangible value, in the forms of employee livelihood, community revival and an industry-transforming product.

About Chobani

Maker of America’s No. 1 selling Greek Yogurt brand, authentic strained Chobani Greek Yogurt was founded on the belief that people have great taste, they just need great options. That is why Chobani produces only the highest quality products made with only natural ingredients out of its New Berlin, N.Y. plant and its one million square-foot production facility in Twin Falls, Idaho. As part of Chobani’s nothing but good philosophy, it is committed to supporting local farmers and strengthening its surrounding area economies. Chobani uses milk from local-area farms and gives 10 percent of its annual profits to charities worldwide through the Shepherd’s Gift Foundation, the company’s charitable arm. Chobani Greek Yogurt products are Kosher certified and are made with milk from cows not treated with rBST, contain five live and active cultures and most offer two times more protein than regular yogurt per serving. Chobani Greek Yogurt products are available nationwide, and in Australia and the UK. Chobani is pleased to offer consumers a variety of nothing but good products: Chobani Greek Yogurt, Chobani Bite, Chobani Flip and Chobani Champions. For more information, please visit chobani.com or connect with Chobani on Facebook at facebook.com/chobani.

About Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year

Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 140 cities in 50 countries.

About Ernst & Young’s Strategic Growth Markets Practice

Through our Strategic Growth Markets (SGM) practice, Ernst & Young guides high-growth companies to market leadership worldwide. Our multidisciplinary teams of dedicated professionals provide perspective, advice, and insights to help our clients accelerate their growth. Ernst & Young is the undisputed leader in guiding Russell 2000® companies, IPO-bound companies and Forbes’ largest private companies. We deliver assurance, advisory, tax and transaction advisory services to thousands of companies in numerous, selected industries.

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 167,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

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