Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017
Greek yogurt maker Chobani, LLC announced the conclusion of its first Chobani Food Incubator at the Natural Products Expo (Expo West)—the country’s largest natural foods show—in Anaheim, CA.
“I’ve dreamed about starting the Chobani Food Incubator for a long time and I’ve loved having these start-ups here the past six months,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, the company’s founder and CEO, in a press release. “They’re part of the Chobani family. We’ve tried to give them some of the lessons we learned along the way and and they’ve brought us back to our early days when we were just getting going. I believe so much in these six companies, and our only interest is their success and helping them make a difference. In their ways, they’re shaping the future of food.”
Ulukaya launched the incubator program to mentor food entrepreneurs and build a community looking to challenge and improve food industry norms.
For its inaugural class, Chobani received over 450 applications for only six spots.
Chobani graduated its first Food Incubator class by hosting a “demo day” in which the six industry innovators could present to potential investors, distributors, and customers with demonstrations of their products.
During the six month program, Chobani Food Incubator ‘s companies:
- Expanded product portfolio and distribution
- Secured relationships with national retailers and increased employee headcount
- Registered a combined total revenue of $3 million in 2017 alone (YTD) and an increase of 60% in distribution
- Engaged with more than 75 internal mentors in areas including sales, marketing, finance, and manufacturing operations, as well as Chobani’s leadership team
The inaugural class’s participants achieved a number of impressive goals thanks to the program. Participants included:
- Banza® - A maker of nutritious pasta and foods that are affordable, convenient, and easy to prepare. Banza secured national distribution with a leading retailer and hired a new Head of Field Marketing through the program.
- CHOPS Snacks - The company makes a range of jerky snacks using all-natural premium beef brisket and 100% natural spices. CHOPS Snacks had product launch requests from four natural grocery chains, and became the top-rated beef jerky on several e-commerce platforms.
- Cissé Cocoa Co - A USDA approved and Fair Trade organic chocolate company, Cissé Cocoa Co increased its store count from 2,000 to 4,500 doors and launched in Hudson News retail stores.
- JAR Goods® - The company creates and offers delicious, simple specialty foods in jars. During the program, the company grew its doors by 50 percent and began interviews with the company’s first hires.
- Kettle & Fire - America’s first and only USDA grass-fed bone broth made with fresh, organic ingredients, the company registered a four-fold increase in distribution and improved same-store sales by 150 percent.
- MISFIT Juicery – The company makes delicious, nutritious cold-pressed juices with 70 to 80 percent recovered fruits and veggies—trimming and scrap waste produced when companies make fresh cut products like carrot sticks and watermelon cubes. The company garnered Best New Beverage honors at Expo West and launched a partnership with fast casual chain Dig Inn.
The next Chobani Food Incubator class is scheduled to start in Fall 2017; submissions for applicants opens in May. Incubator participants receive equity-free grants, mentorship and access to Chobani’s leadership team to help them grow.
For more on the program, stay tuned to Deli Market News.