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Grainful, LoveTheWild and more join Chobani Food Incubator's second class

Chobani Incubator startups

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.

[email protected]: Gyms give grocery stores more competition | Hain Celestial's approach to corporate venture capital

Grocers have a new competitor for prepared food dollars: gyms

Though many gyms have long sold protein powders, nutrition bars and juices, consumer desire for convenient nutrition is driving more savvy health clubs to add prepared meal offerings for their members. Some retailers are even getting in on the opportunity—earlier this summer, Hy-Vee announced a partnership with OrangeTheory fitness to open locations adjacent to some stores and integrate their training and nutrition services. Read more at FoodDive…

 

Hain Celestial is rewriting the ‘rules’ of corporate venture capital

The natural and organic food company launched a venture arm, Cultivate Ventures, in November. In addition to taking over management of six “underserved” brands in the company’s portfolio, it will also acquire complementary brands. In this interview with Cultivate Ventures CEO Beena Goldenberg, she says it’s especially interested in brands that are innovating in the perimeter of the store. Read more at AgFunder News…

 

Want to start a food business? Check out how this company crafted its culture, structure and offices

In this video, meet the cofounders of ghee manufacturer 4th & Heart and get a peek into the production facility. Read more at Entrepreneur…

 

The grocery industry confronts a new problem: Only 10% of Americans love cooking

Consumers now spend more on food from restaurants than from grocery stores, and a recent survey found that only 10 percent of consumers love to cook, while 45 percent are lukewarm about it and 45 percent dislike it. Read more at Harvard Business Review…

 

7-Eleven introduces local, restaurant-style meals

Convenience stores, too, are working on offering healthier prepared food options to consumers. Select 7-Eleven stores in four U.S. cities are launching heat-and-eat meals delivered daily to stores. Read more at PSFK…

Natural Products Expo

4 brands debut colorful new looks at Natural Products Expo East 2017

Earth Mama—formerly Earth Mama Angel Baby—is just one of the brands that launched a new look at Natural Products Expo East 2017. The personal care company wanted to appeal more to millennial parents and create more cohesiveness among its product lines. In this video, check out its new look and three other natural products companies that recently rebranded, too.

IdeaXchange

USDA is ignoring its customers—the American public—on animal welfare

Matthew Dillon Clif Bar

Sam Walton once said, "If you don’t listen to your customers, someone else will." It’s an often-repeated axiom in the business world and points to how easy it is to lose consumers if you go deaf to their point of view. Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is losing touch with its customers—the American public.

In the organic trade, the consumer has spoken often and spoken loudly. When the initial proposed organic rules were introduced nearly two decades ago, more than a quarter million consumers commented on the rules—an epic number in the days before one-click activism, and the most the Department of Agriculture had ever received to date. The USDA listened and amended the proposed rules based on this public input.

With their wallets and voices, the public continues to advocate for a strong and robust organic seal. Unfortunately, the USDA isn’t following the tradition of listening to its customers. In a 60-day period in spring 2017, the USDA received more than 45,000 positive public comments from farmers, consumers and food producers, agreeing with proposed rules to improve animal welfare, particularly increased pasture access for poultry. Its customers—the public—have spoken, but unfortunately, it seems, they have not been heard.

These animal welfare rules, known as the Organic Livestock and Poultry Production rule, have been carefully crafted over a 14-year process of listening to farmers, food companies, retailers, scientists, animal welfare advocates and consumers. They were reviewed, revised and reviewed some more before being finalized in 2016. These final rules were scheduled to go into effect in January 2017. However, the USDA has not followed the Administrative Procedure Act and has repeatedly and seemingly indefinitely delayed implementation, without appropriate public input.

Instead, USDA is listening to a few massive egg producers that want to increase sales into organic markets but not incur the costs of higher animal welfare standards. For this reason, the Organic Trade Association is suing the USDA for repeated delays of Organic Livestock and Poultry Production rule.

The company I work for, Clif Bar, doesn’t raise chickens or use eggs in our product. Our business is not directly impacted by organic poultry rules. So why are we joining the Organic Trade Association and the public chorus who have voiced their concern with the rules? It’s simple: The lack of rule-following by USDA threatens the very integrity and trust that differentiates the organic seal from every other food label. Organic customers want organic farming to continue having the highest standards—and they believe that the historical process of organic rule-making, which includes listening to the customer, needs to be maintained if the organic label is going to continue being a trusted standard.  

The success of thousands of family organic farms and decades of hard work by consumers, farmers and food companies is at stake. While the organic community doesn’t always align on everything, we all agree that the future of feeding Americans with healthy, sustainable food requires a robust and trustworthy organic seal. The American public has spoken. USDA must heed Mr. Walton’s advice; if the USDA doesn’t listen to its customers, someone else will.

Natural Foods Merchandiser

How are retailers connecting with millennials and Generation Z?

Thinkstock generation z grocery shopping

“Roots Market stores connects with millennials through social media. While Facebook is still popular among the younger generation, Instagram has been the best way to share our products and mission with the community. Instagram allows you to share multiple images, stories, tag companies and repost images our guests share with us. This method really connects the consumer with the business and creates a partnership between the two.” 

-Katie Smallwood, marketing and community outreach leader, Conscious Corner Roots Market/Great Sage

 

“We are using the power of social media by creating our own video content sharing our mission, core values, environmental initiatives, promotions and more.”

-Gabe Nabors, co-owner, Mustard Seed Market

 

“To connect with generation Z and millennials, we launched an app in partnership with GroceryPress that has combined our unique loyalty program with our flier program. Customers can view their receipts, see progress wheels on how close they are to receiving a reward, and shop our sales and coupons. We are also very strong at social media and have started doing informational short videos.”

-Summer Auerbach, owner, Rainbow Blossom

 

Natural Products Expo

8 better-for-you puffed snacks sampled at Expo East 2017

Cheetos? Puh-lease. With all of the nutrient-dense puffed snacks exhibited at Expo East, there's simply no excuse to choose old-school, empty-calorie snacks anymore. But we get it—puffed snacks are fun to eat. They seem to melt in your mouth upon contact with your tongue, and they're a prime vehicle for flavorful spices and herbs. Now, we can add health to the snacking equation. The newest puffs prioritize protein- and fiber-dense beans, consciously sourced whole grain rice and more.

[email protected]: Angie's Boomchickapop bought by Conagra | All the ways Amazon is moving into physical retail

angie's boomchickapop

Conagra buys Boomchickapop maker Angie’s Artisan Treats

Chicago-based Conagra already owns a popcorn brand, Orville Redenbacher, but is looking for ways to “modernize our portfolio and accelerate growth,” CEO Sean Connolly said.  Angie’s makes non-GMO, gluten-free snacks free of artificial colors and flavors for health-conscious and natural food consumers. In a statement, Angie’s cofounder Angie Bastian said the deal will allow consumers to find more of the brand’s snacks in more stores. It’s expected to close by year’s end. Read more at StarTribune…

 

Amazon is making huge physical bets in defiance of the retail apocalypse

Brick-and-mortar retailers may be worried about the impact of e-commerce on their businesses, but so do e-commerce retailers recognize the importance of brick-and-mortar—or at least Amazon seems to. The online retailer has been increasingly moving into physical retail with its acquisition of Whole Foods, a partnership with Kohl’s, a chain of bookstores, the testing of an AmazonGo store, and the addition of AmazonFresh pickup and Amazon Lockers in grocery stores. Read more at Business Insider…

 

Arkansas defies Monsanto, moves to ban rogue weedkiller

The Arkansas State Plant Board, which consists of citizens connected to agriculture, has the authority to regulate pesticides in the state and voted last week to ban the use of the herbicide dicamba during the summertime because of its tendency to drift into neighboring fields. Monsanto’s dicamba is used with soybeans and cotton crops from seeds that have been genetically modified to tolerate it. Nearly 1,000 farmers in Arkansas filed formal complaints of damaged crops from drifting of the herbicide. Read more at NPR…

 

Study suggests when mobile markets take wireless food stamps, more people buy healthy food

 A New York University Study found that more people in low-income neighborhoods purchased more fruits and vegetables when local mobile vendors accepted food stamps from Electronic Benefits Transfer machines. However, the high cost of these machines is a challenge. Read more at PBS…

 

Science offers real sugar alternatives to help reduce obesity

Scientists at Tate and Lyle claim to have come up with products that offer the same sweetness as sugar without the calories. “We are working on a pipeline of rare sugars,” said Kavita Karnik, director of nutrition and innovation at Tate and Lyle. “Although not approved here yet, they are elsewhere in South and North America.” Read more at The National…

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Probiotic innovations target new health concerns

New probiotics at Natural Products Expo East 2017 targeted skin and beauty, children, leaky gut and more. We visited three companies leading the way.

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13 herb-infused foods and beverages at Natural Products Expo East 2017

Herbs, botanicals and superfood powders have been important ingredients in supplements for decades. But only recently have brands added these powerful, functional boosters to charge up foods and beverages.

Nourishing adaptogenic herbs such as maca, ashwagandha and rhodiola. Bright, flavorful berries like goji, acerola and schisandra. Ayurvedic ginger, turmeric and cardamom. These interesting ingredients provide added value, nutrition and flavor to products, and they're all about optimizing foods consumers already eat to supercharge their day. Here are a few herb- and botanical-infused foods and beverages we spotted at Natural Products Expo East 2017.