Six food entrepreneurs have been selected to participate in the incubator program for Chobani, the American yoghurt producer.
The four month program includes a $25,000 investment in the businesses and workshops, mentor rotations and field trips to retailers and Chobani facilities. It covers everything from building a sustainable business, scaling up, marketing, packaging, pricing, sales and retail strategy through to innovation and manufacturing, food quality, safety, nutrition and labelling.
Food Spark takes a look at what the outfits are doing and where Chobani thinks the future of food is going.
This fledging business makes a line of allergy-friendly kid’s food, starting with cookies. They are all free from the top 14 allergens, non-GMO, kosher, vegan and gluten-free.
Founder Denise Woodard was pushed to pursue the idea after her daughter Vivienne developed a number of allergies when moving on to solids.
“Naturally, I set out to find the healthy, allergy-friendly snacks we’d need to fuel our active lifestyle. I came away from the stores frustrated and mystified. Nothing on the shelves met our dietary needs and my healthy standards. Were we the only health-conscious family living with food allergies and looking for fun, easy food options?” she said.
From there, Partake Food was born. The current line-up includes sprouted grain chocolate chip, carrot oat and sweet potato millet mini cookies.
Down to the smallest sprinkle, this start-up is remixing pantry staples and replacing artificial colours with plant-based alternatives.
It creates clean, allergy-friendly baking ingredients for chefs, like plant-based food colours, soy-free sprinkles and coconut sugar.
The problem Supernatural is solving, and the opportunity they're pursuing, can be summed up in one stat: less than 1% of craft baking products in the US currently have natural alternatives. It’s something sure to be reflected in the UK market as well.
A maker of premium hummus that uses an innovative cold process that protects the flavours and nutrients of fresh ingredients. Ithaca keep all of their ingredients cold throughout the manufacturing process in order to deliver the benefits of their fresh ingredients in a final product that has a 100-day shelf life. The brands big selling point is there is nothing artificial – no preservatives, citric acid, canola oil or soy.
The brand also has a range of flavours which includes roasted red pepper, lemon garlic, lemon beetroot, lemon dill and smoked chipotle.
Founder Chris Kirby was tired of working as a chef in a restaurant and started selling his homemdae hummus at the farmers market. But when he got his product on the shelves of American supermarket Wegmans, he faced difficulties with keeping up with demand and needed to scale up production.
“When I walked into a commercial food plant for the first time, it looked more like an industrial factory to me than a place where food was being made for people to eventually put in their mouths. As I explained my recipes and process to them, I was told that there was no way I would ever be able to scale up,” he explained.
“The shelf life wouldn’t be long enough, hand squeezing lemons would be too expensive, chickpeas would need to be blended hot instead of my standard of chilling them before they are whipped. They insisted that we use preservatives like potassium sorbate to extend the shelf-life and artificial ingredients like xanthan gum as fillers to drive cost down. But worst of all, these big food manufacturers would require that we heat pasteurise (cook) the hummus after it was blended.”
As a result, Kirby turned to the cold process technology to keep the natural, flavoursome ethos in his product.
Haven’s Kitchen Sauces
Making globally-inspired sauces with fresh, natural ingredients. Created to save home cook’s time shopping, chopping, cooking and cleaning, the sauces can be used as a finished sauce or as an ingredient in dishes. They can be used to add flavour to stews, roasts and stir-fries, as a marinade for a soup or salad dressings or even drizzled on veggies or grains.
The sauces are of course organic, vegan and gluten-free. Flavours include a classic Spanish sauce of red pepper romensco, which is made with almonds and three different peppers, a herby chimichurri and South East-Asian inspired peanut lemongrass sauce.
The focus is not only on naturally caffeinated snacks, but TeaSquares also has a social mission behind it as it hires young adults from deprived neighbourhoods.
TeaSquares’ Jordan Buckner found himself working like crazy but when he looked for a snack to keep him going, they were either filled with sugar or unnecessary protein.
“So I got together with my friends Isaac, Adi, Alex, who became my co-founders, and set off to create what would become TeaSquares. We realised that tea contains an energising combination of naturally occurring caffeine and l-theanine, an amino acid that helps regulate the absorption of caffeine and reduce stress. By infusing our snack bars with organic tea, we created a caffeinated energy snack that tastes good and keeps you focused,” he said.
Current products include bite-sized snacks with citrus green tea, acai blueberry tea and vanilla chai.
Brothers Max and Graham Fortgang started MatchaBar with a café, but in 2016 they launched the world’s first ceremonial grade bottled matcha as a healthy alternative to energy drinks.
The company is based in Brooklyn, New York and distributes its shelf-stable bottled product across the country. Its matcha is sourced directly from a family business in Kagoshima, Japan.