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Posted at 01:37 PM ET, 07/09/2013

USDA Greek yogurt contract sets up culture clash


(bigstock)
Thought the ancient Olympics were competitive? Try the Great Greek Yogurt-Off of 2013.

The Department of Agriculture this week began seeking bids for yogurt-makers to supply a four-state pilot program in which public school kids will get cartons of the tangy treat in their cafeterias.

Gentlemen, start your bacterium!

Lawmakers from states where Greek yogurt is a booming business are, quite naturally, thrilled. New York is home to the plants for Fage and Chobani; the latter also has a facility in Idaho.

“I hope USDA will continue the important process of making this healthy food option increasingly available to young Americans,” said Sen. Mike Crapo (R- Idaho) in a statement.

“I am proud to see this pilot plan reach this final step, because it’s a boon for New York yogurt and dairy industries, and it’s beneficial for the health of our kids,” enthused Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who claimed credit for helping kick-start the program as part of his campaign to make the Empire State the Greek yogurt capitol of the world — at least outside Greece, that is.

There’s a trickle-down effect as well, with the yogurt craze also boosting dairy farmers in those states who supply the raw goods.

Both New York and Idaho are part of the pilot program, along with Arizona and Tennessee.

Since the program could be expanded nationwide, the company (or companies — USDA could give the contract to multiple suppliers or settle on a single manufacturer) that snags a contract could be in for a boost in business. The initial buy alone is some 199,800 pounds of yogurt.

So now, the chase is on — talk about a culture clash.

By  |  01:37 PM ET, 07/09/2013

 
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