- Sonoma Brands launched the first brand under its incubator, chilled RTD soup line Züpa Noma.
- Canned soup's issues have been attributed to high salt content, processing, inconvenience, and BPA concerns. That's where Züpa Noma believes it can be disruptive: by positioning soup as a drinkable liquid meal replacement that can be consumed cold on the go without concerns about sodium or other additives.
- Jon Sebastiani, who also founded Krave jerky and later sold the brand to Hershey, founded Sonoma Brands at the beginning of this year. Sonoma Brands made its first investment in March, coconut and onion chip maker Dang Foods.
Sebastiani told Food Dive he has a trajectory in mind for the new product that mirrors his previous venture — category disruption.
"We plan to have Züpa Noma be the soup category caption, similar to how Krave led the jerky renaissance," said Sebastiani. "Züpa Noma is set apart by being a truly better-for-you option."
Canned soup has waned in recent years, with consumption declining 13% in the decade leading up to 2012, according to Euromonitor. Sales were flat or picked up in the following years, and grew 4% to $5 billion last year, Euromonitor found. But major canned soup manufacturers like Campbell continue to struggle, with the company reporting a 5% decrease in U.S. canned soup sales in the most recent quarter.
General Mills' 301 Inc. also sees potential in this category, having led an investment round in chilled, RTD vegetable soup startup Tio Gazpacho in March.
Another significant difference here is that Sonoma Brands hasn't just invested in a promising startup. This launch further demonstrates how integral incubators have become, and will continue to be, in the fast-paced evolution of the food system. Incubators play a key role in the growth of startups that will pose challenges to major food manufacturers.