Daiya Foods is one of the founding members of The Plant Based Foods Association and one of the largest companies in the plant-based space. From its beginnings in the alt dairy category to its most recent investment in Protein Industries Canada, Daiya has been a leader in the sector.
With its name created as a play on the words “Dairy” and “Dayaa” – Sanskrit for “loving, kindness and compassion” – the brand supplies vegan cheese to fast food chains such as Johnny Rockets and created the first-to-market pizza crust created with cauliflower, sweet potato, and spinach.
We had the opportunity to talk with Dan Hua, VP of Marketing at Daiya Foods about the company and its plant-based vision.
How has Daiya evolved into a plant-based foods industry leader since its founding in 2008?
Daiya was founded 13 years ago, out of a love for good food and a commitment to healthier living, and we’ve been steadfast ever since in our commitment to creating delicious plant-based foods that are good for both people and planet. Our legacy is rooted in the creation of Daiya’s dairy-free cheeze shreds and making sure they melt and stretch like traditional, dairy cheese.
“we’re consistently working to address the lifestyle and food preferences of today’s evolving consumer”
This initial plant-based cheeze innovation was an industry first and the catalyst for an entire line of cheeze-forward products, which today features over 74 SKUs. In 2017, Daiya partnered with Otsuka Holdings, a global holistic health company with a shared passion for innovation, education, trial and greater access to plant-based foods. Together, we’re consistently working to address the lifestyle and food preferences of today’s evolving consumer and we are committed to making tasty, plant-based comfort foods more accessible for everyone.
Could you describe your product range and your biggest sellers?
We’re known for being the number one plant-based cheeze brand and pioneer of plant-based products in both natural and multi-outlet retail stores; our core, dairy-free cheeze products comprise our biggest sellers. Daiya offers a complete line of plant-based cheezes, including everything from shreds, slices, blocks, sticks and cream cheeze-style spreads, which are easily incorporated into everyday meals. We continue to push the category forward with innovation, delivering on exceptional taste and texture, as well as introducing newer formats like frozen pizzas, burritos, and dairy-free desserts.
Plant-based eating has taken off well beyond Daiya’s original vegan audience to include many more people who are more eagerly exploring the benefits of dairy-free meals.
Daiya teams are consistently monitoring trends and anticipating the evolving needs of both plant-based eaters, people who choose dairy-free products as part of an allergen consideration, and mainstream consumers who may be new to dabbling into this category of foods. Our commitment is rooted in making sure everyone has a seat at the table to enjoy delicious food options.
How do you source ingredients for your plant-based products?
The team at the new Daiya Centre for Innovation is guided by the legacy of our original founders and innovation is further enabled by our global partnership with Otsuka. Our research and development team works closely with our procurement representatives, chefs, registered dietitians, as well as with ongoing feedback from our consumers around the world. When sourcing ingredients, Daiya has a close focus on quality, responsible manufacturing, and safety to ensure plant-based ingredients and innovations that deliver on taste, texture and food performance for melty moments and delicious dairy-free choices.
As a big player in the plant-based industry, how do you stay agile when it comes to the constantly evolving innovation landscape?
We’re excited and inspired to see more people embracing plant-based foods, and that also means greater expectations and navigating a growing and challenging marketplace. The days are long gone of only being able to find plant-based food options at health food and specialty stores, often priced at a level not accessible for all and often not delivering on taste to ensure happy customers. Just this past year we opened a state-of-the-art production facility in Burnaby, BC, which is completely dedicated to only plant-based manufacturing.
We also launched an innovation center to focus on the latest developments in technology, new ingredients and new formulations, with the goal of significantly expanding our growth in North America. Entrepreneurship and innovation are part of the Daiya DNA and our team is committed to offering options with better taste, texture, recipe use and availability, in order to deliver plant-based breakthroughs.
What does Daiya hope to achieve in the next five years?
We’ve seen an extremely positive response to Daiya’s cheeze-forward foods throughout North America and in the next five years, we will be more widely recognized on a global scale.
With the plant-based food industry expected to grow by almost 12% to $74 billion by 2027, we believe that consumer preferences will continue to shift towards a plant-based diet, and this brings great possibility and momentum to Daiya’s portfolio of products.
As an original creator in the cheeze-forward foods space, we remain steadfast in our commitment to creating foods that are better for people and planet.