Yale Grad Students Look To Expand Homegrown Frozen Food Line

By Luther Turmelle
New Haven Register, Conn.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Two grad students at Yale have joined forces to create a nutritious frozen food line. So far, “Zoni Foods” has three different frozen meal kits: Coconut Curry Noodles, Sweet Potato Spirals and Zesty Peanut Noodles.

New Haven Register, Conn.

What started as chance meeting of two female Yale University graduate students with entrepreneurial inclinations has evolved into a homegrown frozen food line that is gradually building market share.

Zoni Foods is the brainchild of Zoe Lloyd and Nilofer Ahmed.

The two women bemoaned the lack of fast and nutritious plant-based meals as busy graduate students and decided to do something about it.

Lloyd said the two met at a Yale School of Management event designed to help young entrepreneurs network, and bonded over shared interest in food and sustainable products.

“Last summer we started following different food blogs to see what ingredients were popular,” Ahmed said. “Then we began to experiment with ingredients in Zoe’s kitchen. And we’d hold tasting parties to see what other people thought of what we made.”

“We got some good traction from that,” Lloyd said of the tasting parties.

Having won over the taste buds of their friends, the two set out to win over a more judgemental audience in product pitch competition.

They won several competitions and the winnings from those events, combined with grant money, enabled Lloyd and Ahmed to launch Zoni Foods last summer with a $60,000 bankroll.

Zoni Foods meal kits made their debut in six stores this month, five of which are in the New Haven area.

Lloyd has been spending much of her time doing product demonstrations at stores such as Edge of the Woods and Elm City Market in New Haven as well as Thyme and Season in Hamden.

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