PG GenNext Award Winner’s Startup in Spring 2019 Chobani Incubator Class
Among the members of the Chobani Incubator programs Spring 2019 class for disruptive food and beverage startups is Seal the Seasons, the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based frozen produce company co-founded in 2014 by Progressive Grocer GenNext Award recipient Patrick Mateer. The GenNext Awards recognize emerging grocery leaders under the age of 40 who have demonstrated a commitment to a career in either the grocery or consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry.
Co-founded with Alex Piasecki, Seal the Seasons aims to “bring delicious local food to your grocery store 12 months a year by sourcing the best of your community’s food, creating impact for both your community and your taste buds.” The company sells 37 frozen food items, among them blueberries, strawberries and peaches, all of which are sourced from local farmers.
The other class members, representing the most diverse mix of backgrounds, perspectives and culinary inspirations in the program’s history, are Afia Foods, a manufacturer of frozen, protein-forward falafel and kibbeh made with Halal-certified meat; Cocina 54, a maker of gluten-free empanadas; The Meat Hook, a Brooklyn-based, nose-to-tail butcher with a focus on local meat from small, family-run farms in New York; Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., a producer of all-natural scratch-made biscuits; Cannonborough Beverage Co., whose 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”; Edesia Nutrition/MeWe, which provides nourishment to needy children globally with ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs); and Thaifusions, selling sauces and curries based on family recipes.
Since 2016, the Chobani Incubator program has helped entrepreneurs break into food and beverage industries through equity-free investment and a strong focus on mentorship. Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, the program’s creator, selects all of the final participants and spends time getting to know and mentor each company during the program.
According to Norwich, N.Y.-based Chobani, the first two classes to participate in the Chobani Incubator program have, on average, achieved a 68 percent increase in distribution and a 67 percent increase in annual revenue in 2018 from the year-ago period. Overall, alumni have collectively raised more than $60 million since the program’s inception.