The facility, along with another 30,000 square feet of office and warehouse space scheduled for completion in the summer, is just the latest in Noosa’s efforts to keep up with its exploding growth.
In October 2012, the company completed a 25,000-square-foot expansion, but rapidly growing distribution and sales meant that another expansion would soon be needed. Noosa operates on Morningfresh’s land, under a lease from the Bellvue dairy.
The company began in 2010, after the yoghurt was brought over from Australia, where it is sold as Queensland Yoghurt. In the beginning, samples of Noosa were included with deliveries of Morningfresh milk, with comment cards that would be picked up and returned to Noosa.
Since then, the company has grown exponentially. Distributed in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, Noosa is now the fastest-growing yogurt brand in the country, Groetsch said.
The company doesn’t release revenue figures, but it saw 260 percent growth from 2011 to 2012, and 130 percent growth from 2012 to 2013. In the last 18 months, it has increased from 18 to 68 full-time employees, Groetsch said.
Noosa yoghurt comes in nine flavors. Its blueberry is the most popular, and is sold in nearly every major retailer in the country, including Kroger, Target and Whole Foods.
Atlanta is serving as a test site for many types of marketing that are new to Noosa, such as billboards. The focus so far has been on marketing through social media, promoting the product on the street via trucks, and other forms of “guerrilla marketing,” Groetsch said.
The goal is to increase the nationwide awareness of the brand while maintaining top-of-the-line quality, Groetsch said.
Noosa’s fast growth has made it eligible for bank financing where other young companies may not have been, making their many expansions possible.
“Noosa has experienced tremendous growth as a result of their team’s commitment to making quality and flavorful yoghurt,´ said Paul Watkins, vice president and senior business relationship manager at Wells Fargo, which provided the loan for the expansion. “Wells Fargo has been fortunate to help them along their growth path by providing a line of credit, various equipment loans and now a real estate loan.”
Yogurt in general has seen large increases in popularity in recent years, especially the Greek variety, which has challenged many larger traditional yogurt brands. Traditional yogurt giants like Yoplait and Dannon have come out with their own versions of Greek yogurt to compete with brands like Fage and Chobani, which are often considered healthier, mostly because of higher protein content.
But Noosa hasn’t experienced a threat from its Mediterranean cousin, Groetsch said. The Australian style is thicker and more tangy than typical yogurt sold in America, similar to the Greek style, so the increasing popularity of Greek yogurt has actually served as a boon for the burgeoning company, according to Groetsch.