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Five food disrupter start-ups to watch

Chobani Australia, in partnership with Monash University’s Food Innovation Centre (FIC), has announced the winners of its first incubator program in Australia. 

The Chobani Incubator program is designed to help positively shape the food industry of tomorrow through equity-free investment and a strong focus on mentorship for food start-ups that the company believes can positively impact our world. 

The five inaugural members of Chobani Australia’s inaugural Food Incubator class are 99th Monkey, from Oakleigh, Victoria; Bake Mixes, from Watsonia, Victoria; Kooee! Snacks from Launceston, Tasmania; Matcha Maiden from Malvern, Victoria; and Mingle Seasoning from Strathmore, Victoria.

Founded in 2013 by Nick Sheridan, 99th Monkey is a manufacturer of ethically sourced nut butters. 99th Monkey started selling from farmers markets before expanding into independent health-food and fine food stores, with product now stocked in 700 stores around Australia.

Bake Mixes produces a nutritious alternative to conventional packet baking mixes, using high quality natural and organic ingredients. From a small start in a Melbourne home kitchen, the range is now available for purchase at over 350 health food stores Australia-wide.

Crafters of high-protein healthy beef jerky, Kooee! Snacks began with a collaboration between two friends, Andy Fist and Shaun Malligan. Crafted in Tasmania from 100% grass-fed beef, Kooee jerky is currently sold by over 500 retailers.

Matcha Maiden founders Nic Davidson and Sarah Holloway first experienced the ancient matcha tea ceremony in Japan, starting the business when they found their daily matcha habit was surprisingly hard to satisfy. With a goal of bringing perceptions of matcha from “old-fashioned tea” to “superfood”, the team have recently opened a specialty matcha café, Matcha Mylkbar, in Melbourne and have a growing global list of 1000+ stockists.

Melbourne-based Mingle Seasoning was started in 2016 by Jordyn Evans, making all-natural seasonings and spice mixes with “no nasties” - free from the fillers, anti-caking agent and sugars found in many seasoning brands. 

Chobani Founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya said he believed that natural food start-ups with the right mindset can change make a big difference in their communities. 

“I love what’s happening with food start-ups here in Australia and want to share what we’ve learned when it comes to scaling and fighting convention, like we’ve done with our other incubator programs. This is a no-strings-attached, grant-based program to support entrepreneurs so we can further fuel the food revolution,” he said.

Chobani says there is proof the model works: the Incubator's first US class has seen a more than 250% increase in distribution and 2.6 times growth in annual revenue. 

The 4-month Australia incubator program will be based out of Chobani’s state-of-the-art Dandenong manufacturing facility and Monash’s Food Innovation Centre and was designed to combine Chobani’s expertise in sales, marketing and customer engagement with the FIC’s facilities to support new product development, innovation, and quality, helping start-ups improve Australia's food industry.


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