Chobani LLC, maker of America's No. 1 Greek yogurt brand and the second largest overall yogurt manufacturer in the U.S., has announced the selection of seven new food startups to join the second class of the Chobani Food Incubator. The group comprises companies that are disrupting, innovating and inspiring new food categories in the U.S.—from innovative products like plant-based ice cream, a low-sugar and low-calorie beer alternative, a healthier frozen fruit pop, as well as fresh and sustainable takes on foods that have been around for centuries, like oats, saffron and seafood.
"To select our second next class, we tasted hundreds of products and met with entrepreneurs across the country and the world," said Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO, Chobani. "These seven companies each have something special and unique. In selecting this class, we looked at what categories—and what teams of people—have the ability to make big changes in American supermarkets and give more people better options. I can't wait to have these companies at Chobani to see how we can help them on their journey and welcome them to our family."
Since launching last year in the U.S., the Chobani Food Incubator program has helped entrepreneurs with big hearts and ideas break into the food industry. With more than 550 applications for seven spots—a 20 percent increase from last year—Chobani is seeking to partner with small food brands to provide them the resources they need to challenge big food companies, give more people access to natural, affordable food and create a new food frontier.
For this year's class, Chobani was searching for purpose-driven entrepreneurs whose business models are rooted in social good initiatives, who are passionate about making natural, creative food more accessible, and are doing so in a sustainable way. The inspiration for these products comes from all corners of the world—representing the history of their founders—from kitchens in Boulder to labs in Boston, from traditional Chinese practices to farms in Afghanistan.
The second Chobani Food Incubator class will run from September 2017 to December 2017, based out of a dedicated space designed for the Incubator at Chobani's sales and marketing offices in New York.
Here's a closer look at the startups selected:
Chloe's Fruit, New York. Chloe's Fruit is the perfect combination of just fruit, water and a touch of organic cane sugar. That's it! Blended in a soft serve machine, Chloe's offers creamy, clean, delicious frozen Soft Serve Fruit, from its flagship store in NYC, and 60 calorie Fruit Pops, available in grocery stores nationwide, that are dairy free, gluten free, fat free, vegan, kosher pareve, Non-GMO Project Verified and free from all eight major allergens. Founded by Chloe, a mom of three, Chloe's is "the cool way to eat fruit."
Farmer Willie's, Boston. Farmer Willie's makes craft ginger beer that is gluten free, has 75 percent less sugar and has fewer calories than a glass of wine. By fermenting cold pressed ginger, lemon and cane sugar with champagne yeast, they've created a fresh, dry 4.5 percent alc/vol ginger beer that won best in show at the NY International Beer Festival 2017.
Grainful, Ithaca, New York. Grainful is on a mission to bring globally inspired, bold tasting foods to all consumers at an affordable price and in an honest way, with grains as the foundation. With an increasing awareness about the value of nutrient-dense real foods for both the individual and the planet, Grainful is leading the way with healthier, for you, meal solutions for the busy consumer centered on high-protein grains and clean ingredients.
LoveTheWild, Boulder, Colorado. LoveTheWild is on a mission to change the way Americans view seafood. The company is disrupting the frozen seafood case through its exciting three-step culinary experience: sustainable frozen fish paired with bold handcrafted sauce cubes and parchment paper.
Pique Tea Crystals, San Francisco. Pique Tea Crystals is the world's first instant plant fuel. Made purely from organic super-plants, free of sugar, additives and preservatives, the company is helping consumers reap the benefits of tea by making it easier for them to consume sufficient quantities of active ingredients that are not present in tea bags or bottled teas.
Rumi Spice, Chicago. Rumi Spice works directly with Afghan farmers to import the highest quality saffron and saffron products to restaurants and retail stores across the U.S. C-founded by Army veterans who served combat tours in Afghanistan, Rumi has hired 384 Afghan women, stood up three processing facilities and has over 90 farmers in its network.
Snow Monkey, Santa Monica, California. Snow Monkey has reinvented ice cream as a nutritious and delicious treat crafted from all-natural, plant-based ingredients, allowing Americans to enjoy their favorite dessert for breakfast, fuel or indulgence. Its Superfood Ice Treats are vegan, paleo, packed with 21 grams of protein per pint, and free from all eight major allergens like dairy, gluten, soy and nuts.
For more information and updates from each of the participants, visit chobanifoodincubator.com.