These seven startups cover a wide range of food categories from frozen seafood to alcoholic ginger beer.
In the past decade, few success stories, food or otherwise, are as big as Chobani. The brand practically put Greek yogurt on the map—in America, at least; it was definitely already on the map in Greece—becoming America's best-selling Greek yogurt brand and the country's second largest yogurt maker overall. Last year, the company decided it wanted to help spread its successful ways, launching its own Chobani Food Incubator. And today, the yogurt maker has announced this year's "second class" of incubator businesses—any of which could potentially become the next Chobani.
"To select our second next class, we tasted hundreds of products and met with entrepreneurs across the country and the world," Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani, was quoted as saying in a statement which said the program received over 550 applications this year. "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."
As promised, the startups that made the final cut cover a wide range of categories.
- The New York-based Chloe's Fruit sells Soft Serve Fruit and 60 calorie Fruit Pops that are "the perfect combination of just fruit, water and a touch of organic cane sugar."
- Boston-based Farmer Willie's makes dry, gluten-free "craft ginger beer" by "fermenting cold pressed ginger, lemon and cane sugar with champagne yeast" (and that yours truly will vouch for as being really good!).
- Ithaca-based Grainful focuses on meals based "on high-protein grains and clean ingredients."
- Boulder-based LoveTheWild "is disrupting the frozen seafood case through their exciting 3 step culinary experience: sustainable frozen fish paired with bold handcrafted sauce cubes and parchment paper."
- San Francisco-based Pique Tea Crystals makes "the world's first instant plant fuel" looking to help "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."
- Chicago-based Rumi Spice was founded by US Army veterans who served in Afghanistan to work "directly with Afghan farmers to import the highest quality saffron and saffron products."
- And lastly, Santa Monica-based Snow Monkey makes "Superfood Ice Treats [that] are vegan, paleo, packed with 21g of protein per pint, and free from all eight major allergens like dairy, gluten, soy and nuts."
Okay, but seriously, which of these businesses will be the next Chobani? We all want to seem ahead of the curve, right? Well, if you want a refresher on last year's class, the six companies chosen in 2016 were Banza, Jar Goods, Chop Snacks, Cisse Coca Co., Kettle & Fire, and MISFIT Juicery. I guess how successful you expect any of the 2017 class to be would in part depend on how well you know any of the names above. Though keep in mind, even Chobani didn't take over Greek yogurt overnight.