Miyoko’s Creamery yesterday announced an incredible $52M in Series C to further disrupt the dairy market, as it has been since 2014. We spoke with industry pioneer Miyoko Schinner about product re-development, expansion into Europe, some exciting new developments, and how a blind test for an airline found her butter superior to dairy (of course).
Following this landmark raise, Miyoko’s future distribution expansion will focus on conventional grocery, club and food service, and the funds will be used to launch a liquid mozzarella for pizza that bakes into a stretchy cheese, reformulate the Medium Cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses, and advance R&D as well as double the team. A vegan cottage cheese will also be showcased at this Expo West next month.
“game-changing products that can help change the dairy landscape from animals to plants”
Congratulations Miyoko on such an impressive Series C raise. Can you summarise in a sentence or two what these fresh funds will signify for the future of Miyoko’s Creamery? What changes will we see, if any?
I am hoping we will be able to expand our marketing initiatives to create strong awareness among the public not only about our brand but our mission. In addition, we would like to build our innovation team to continue developing game-changing products that can help change the dairy landscape from animals to plants.
Can you tell us about the upcoming pourable mozzarella, “Liquid”, and your intentions for it – do you envisage Liquid as a way to transform commercial pizza and finally create a truly up-scalable vegan cheese for restaurant chains (we need it)? Or is it for the consumer?
The product launched last year in food service in a limited manner, and we hope to build on that to land on pizzas at chains across the country. In addition, we are launching a retail version this fall which we think will be huge.
“we are launching a retail version this fall which we think will be huge”
Why and how will you reformulate your Medium Cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses?
We believe that a good cheese should be made from good plant milk using whole-food ingredients and natural processes such as fermentation and ageing. The products we launched didn’t’ push the envelope as far as I would have liked, nor were they organic – in other words, they did not adhere to our philosophy exactly. We are reformulating them based on milk made from more whole-food, organic ingredients and the nutrition that comes from them, and without natural flavors.
It’s easy to make “cheddar” or “gouda” simply by adding natural flavors that make it taste that way. I want to create those flavors using fermentation.
Can you tell us a little about the new cottage cheese that will debut next month at Natural Products Expo East – what are the core ingredients and where will we see this?
I’m not quite ready to discuss the unique key ingredient of this breakthrough product, but the world will find out at Expo East! All I can say is that the formula contains 5 ingredients only, and has 10 grams of protein per serving, all of it from a whole-foods plant milk.
Miyoko’s European Style Butter is the top-selling plant-based butter in the natural grocery channel across the USA – why? Where can vegan butter go next and do you plan to expand on this line?
Our butter is the best tasting and performing – that’s why. In a blind taste test by chefs at an airline recently, our butter came out ahead of even dairy butter. We plan to build out the brand block for butter, and create a variety of new offerings in style and form factor.
“In a blind taste test by chefs at an airline recently, our butter came out ahead of even dairy butter.”
Your products are currently available in 30,000 stores across North America, South Africa, Hong Kong and Singapore. Are there any plans for European expansion or further markets?
We are keen to get to Europe soon. We are currently studying the market and trying to understand the best strategy and markets for expansion.
You have said, “The company’s rapid growth in just a few short years would not be possible without our unique approach to product innovation” – can you explain a little about this unique approach?
I believe that our philosophy of using nutritious, plant-based ingredients people understand, such as cashews, oats, legumes, and applying biological processes to them to transform them from familiar formats to new ones never imagined before, inspires people. People want to trust the companies that make their food, to know what’s in it, and still get something new and exciting. Ultimately, we are looking at plants through a different lens, asking, “What are the properties this plant has? How can we, through fermentation, the use of enzymes, etc., trigger certain reactions or functionalities that can make them behave like dairy?”
What’s next? What is Miyoko’s Holy Grail?
The Holy Grail is never to stop innovating, never to stop thinking about how change can be made to create a more just, equitable food system that lets animals live in freedom and peace away from the exploitation of man.