Nicole Sopko, Vice President of Upton’s Naturals and an ethical vegan for 20+ years, has been elected president of the board of directors at the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA). Proud to be a founding board member of the organization, she is committed to fostering growth and collaboration within the industry and working to further establish PBFA as a leading voice of the plant-based food industry.
Independently owned Upton’s Naturals, which Nicole runs with her partner Dan Staackmann, joined with the PBFA and the Institute of Justice to fight unreasonable food labeling lawsuits that affect companies making meat alternatives. By challenging and being proactive against these unjust laws early, Upton’s Naturals and the PBFA hopes to create an easier path forward for the entire industry.
Upton’s Naturals is known for bringing the first flavored seitan and the first pre-seasoned, heat-and-serve jackfruit to North America and Europe. The fast-growing brand recently expanded into a new production space six times the size of its previous facility. The company also runs Upton’s Breakroom, a vegan factory café in Chicago, and Liberation Donuts, a 100% vegan gourmet donut shop.
Said Sopko, “Awareness and demand for plant-based foods continues to grow and PBFA stands ready to support that growth. I will work closely with the board, staff leaders, and subject matter expert consultants to advance our endeavors with retailers, e-commerce, food service, distribution, lawmakers, and regulators. In addition, in my new role as president of the PBFA board of directors, I am driven and dedicated to uplifting the voices of our members and doing all that I can to create an organization that supports the strength of our community.”