Chobani announced the companies in its Spring 2019 class. The company came to its decision after reviewing more than 550 applications, and conducting hours of phone interviews and product sampling.
Chobani selected eight food and beverage startups that span a variety of emerging categories, each bringing a unique value and perspective to the cohort. Seventy-five percent of the companies have an underrepresented minority founder, and 63% have a female founder or co-founder. Additionally, the companies hail from all over the country, including Texas, the Carolinas, Seattle, Providence, Brooklyn, and Washington DC.
SPRING 2019 CHOBANI INCUBATOR CLASS
1. AFIA FOODS, Austin, Texas – founded by British-born Syrian Farrah Moussallati, Afia is "bringing the Mediterranean home" to the States, by offering convenient, delicious, frozen falafel and kibbeh. Afia works with local nonprofit organizations to help refugee families relocate and also assists families in need.
2. CANNONBOROUGH CRAFT SODA, Charleston, S.C. – founded by "three total jerks" and lifelong best friends Mick Matricciano, Brandon Wogamon and Matt Fendley, Cannonborough produces all natural sparkling beverages made from fresh fruits, hers and spices, free from any artificial ingredients, added colors, preservatives, concentrates or extracts. Their mission is to change the way people think about soda by creating a product that excites the senses and challenges the limits of the beverage industry.
3. COCINA 54, Austin, Texas – founded by Argentinian husband-and-wife team Cecilia Panichelli and Federico Carillo, Cocina 54 produces better-for-you frozen empanadas that are all natural, baked and gluten-free. Cocina 54 is bringing a convenient product that fits consumers' busy lifestyles and the search for bold international flavors.
4. MEWE, Providence, R.I. – founded by social entrepreneur Navyn Salem, MeWe produces delicious, easy-to-swallow nut butters in squeeze packs that gently introduce babies 6+ months to peanuts. MeWe nut butters are made by Edesia, a non-profit social enterprise that has helped transform the lives of over 8 million malnourished children in 50 countries by making life-saving foods for UNICEF, the World Food Programme, USAID, and others. MeWe nut butters are unique in that they give American families what they need to break free from life's many challenges (peanut allergy, failure to thrive, illness) while giving back 100% to Edesia’s global humanitarian efforts.
5. MASON DIXIE BISCUIT CO, Washington, DC – founded by half-Palestinian, half-Korean, first generation American Ayeshah Abuelhiga, Mason Dixie offers award-winning, made-from-scratch biscuits that are natural, preservative and additive-free – and the only biscuit in grocery made with real butter and dairy. Mason Dixie's biscuits were spun out of a successful Southern Comfort restaurant in DC that has been proudly serving the community for the past four years.
6. SEAL THE SEASONS, Chapel Hill, N.C. – co-founders Patrick Mateer and Alex Piasecki bring the farmer's market to your freezer! Seal the Seasons' mission is to bring locally grown fruits to your grocery store twelve months a year. Seal the Seasons sources the best of your community's food during the relevant growing season, creating impact for both your community and your tastebuds through a partnership with local farmers.
7. THAIFUSIONS, Seattle – co-founded by Thai-American Max Borthwick and his mom, Toi, Thaifusions was created out of family's passion for cooking and sharing authentic Thai food in their community. What started as a successful Thai restaurant in Seattle is now a CPG brand, selling flavorful Thai simmering sauces to discerning palates across the country.
8. THE MEAT HOOK, Brooklyn, N.Y. – co-founded by friends and expert butchers Brent Young and Ben Turley, the Meat Hook is a whole animal butcher shop selling pastured meat from local farms that use regenerative farming practices to reduce carbon emissions and improve water quality and soil health. In order to broaden their impact on the agricultural system, the Meat Hook is expanding its line of inventive, delicious sausages to the larger consumer market.