RALEIGH — Ithaca Cold-Crafted, a hummus-making startup with headquarters in Rochester, N.Y., but its founder/CEO in Raleigh, will be spreading itself even further geographically this fall — both as a team and hopefully as a product — after the company was selected for an incubator run by Chobani.
Ithaca Cold-Crafted is one of six startups chosen to participate in the fourth food incubator programrun by Chobani, the national yogurt brand. Their team will participate in Chobani’s on-site programming in New York City as well as at Chobani manufacturing plants in Twin Falls, Idaho, and New Berlin, New York.
Ithaca Founder and CEO Chris Kirby — a Cornell grad who named the brand for his alma mater’s location — says there are great opportunities to grow and expand his four-year-old company through the Chobani program.
“It is not the type of incubator where they provide you with resources and services, education and capital, then take a piece of your company in return,” said Kirby. “They are doing this, I think, to live out their mission—to help really good food products feed more people with better foods.”
As Chobani is a major brand known especially for the best-selling Greek yogurt in the U.S., Kirby explains that one of the biggest things you get out of its program is validation. As he puts it, “They’re very well-respected. We could go on a sales call and tell them that 2,500 companies have applied and only 30 have been accepted thus far. So that’s one thing.”
Another thing is that Ithaca Cold-Crafted produces hummus that is, quite literally, crafted with cold air. They combine fresh, raw ingredients using a cold and high-pressure processing system to extend the shelf-life of each product to over 100 days. Kirby says that while they extend the shelf life, they still produce a farmer’s market-fresh product, so they’re able to compete with big brands.
The high-pressure process eliminates threats from forming in the hummus, such as listeria, yeast and mold, while the cold preserves the flavors of the ingredients instead of destroying them through heat processing. Kirby said this preserves the fresh hummus taste and quality instead of “killing it off” with pasteurized heat like 90 percent of commercial hummus companies do, he says.
He added, “That’s like taking a fresh glass of orange juice, heating it up in the microwave and tasting it. It’s not going to taste the same afterwards. So we don’t do that. We are kind of like the cold-pressed juice of hummus—we like to do things better.”
While Ithaca Cold-Crafted is still based in Rochester, Kirby himself moved to Raleigh to start his family and work remotely out of Loading Dock Raleigh. While down here he hopes to spread more of Ithaca Cold-Crafted hummus across the Triangle, both literally and figuratively.
This story is from the North Carolina Business News Wire, a service of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism