SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Food & Beverage Development - North AmericaEU edition | APAC edition

News > Suppliers

Read more breaking news

 

 

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: The cultivation and rise of vegan cheese alternatives

Post a comment

By Elizabeth Crawford

16-Dec-2016

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: The rise of vegan cheese alternatives
Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: The rise of vegan cheese alternatives
Loading the player...

There is no denying that vegan is on the rise with consumers looking for more plant-based options, and manufacturers eager to meet that demand with a wide variety of new products -- some of which even are aimed at and winning over carnivores and omnivores.

A quick glance at some of the growth figures in vegan over the past year underscore the strides plant-based is making. According to Google Trends data released at the start of 2016, vegan was one of the top associated keywords in searches.

Drilling down, Google found searches for vegan cheese were up 80% from the prior year, while searches for vegan mac & cheese were up 69%, vegan ice cream 109% and vegan chocolate 89%.

To find out what is driving this spike in vegan, as well as where there is white-space, saturation and how veganism will evolve in the future, this episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Soup-To-Nuts Podcast features Andre Kroecher, who along with Greg Blake co-founded the plant-based, dairy free manufacturer Daiya.

When Daiya first launched in 2009, the vegan CPG scene was grim. But its Cheddar Style and Mozzarella Style shreds, helped revolutionize the market and point the industry in the direction of where it is today.

“Back in 2008 and 2009, it was very different than what we see today,” Kroecher said. “Back then products that were what we call plant-based you would have to be quite desperate to try and consume them.”

But that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t demand for products that vegetarians and vegans could eat to be “like everyone else,” he said.

He explained that when Daiya first made its meltable Cheddar and Mozzarella style shreds the vegan cheese on the market didn’t melt and it wasn’t user friendly. Or worse yet, most of the time it wasn’t even vegan.

“The category back then was called soy cheese or cheese alternative so really it was all soy based and the soy cheeses were often still dairy based or milk based products. Milk protein was literally the second ingredient after water,” Kroecher explained.

Not only was this a no-go for vegans, it didn’t work for people who were allergic to soy. And Kroecher said it was important to Daiya that its products not only meet vegan’s needs but those of people who suffer from the top eight allergens.

By expanding the consumer base and providing a product that actually was a) vegan, b) melted and c) had flavor, Daiya quickly became an underground success. The company originally sold into food service, prompting consumers to buy plastic baggies of the shreds at pizza shops.  

“To our surprise it turned into a frenzy of a black market. It was just incredible,” Kroecher said. And unsustainable because the company couldn’t control the quality of repackaged product, which prompted it to explore the retail side of the business, he added.

Daiya quickly expanded beyond just shreds, to develop mac & cheese, pizzas, yogurts and other in demand dairy free products -- a move that has paved the way for the rest of the industry to follow.

Now what we are seeing is all kinds of diverse offerings from small diverse companies and niche brands. ... We are seeing hemp, cashew, walnut -- all of these alternatives, pea protein, there are just a ton of them. Coconut. An explosion of coconut!” Kroecher said.

As excited as he is by the innovations, he says Daiya still stands apart as offering not only dairy free options, but products that are free of the top eight allergens, including nuts which are often used in artisan alternatives to dairy cheese.

Three main drivers of vegan

Reflecting on the past several years and the recent spike in consumer interest in vegan, Kroecher said the uptick can be attributed to three main factors.

“The first one is the environment,” he said. “There are green consumers who we call conscious consumers” who are focused on the environmental impact of food production, including water use, methane production and soil health -- all of which are impacted more negatively by animal production.

“The next one is some people are concerned about cholesterol and blood pressure and Western diseases that might be associated with some of the Western eating habits” of high animal product consumption, he said.

“And the third is compassion and loving of animals,” he said. “What I noticed in this new generation coming up is there are fewer people having children -- especially if they are a little bit more affluent and doing well they consider the choice to have children very carefully. And those same people are booming with pets. The dogs, the cats and there is more pet insurance. … What that shows us is that people are bonding to animals and when they bond to animals they see their personality and … start thinking about what they are eating” and the difference between their pets and animal-based food.

The future is bright for plant-based

As far as the vegan or plant based food and beverage category has come, there is still plenty of room for new product development, Kroecher said.

“If you pick up the menu of even a very forward, innovative restaurant you will be lucky if you can find anything other than a salad that is plant-based, and usually the dressing will still be egg and dairy,” he said.

He said Daiya is trying to do its part by offering creamy vegan dressings and cheese slices that restaurants can use to make vegan sandwiches more than lettuce, tomato and cucumber.

But there are still gaps in the string cheese category, stuffed ravioli or lasagna and plenty of other places.

Kroecher concluded that Daiya eventually wants to be everywhere there currently is “nothing to eat” for vegans.

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Related products

Related suppliers

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Paid influencers make big impact with small budget in hot sauce category

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Paid influencers make big impact with small budget in hot sauce category

From restaurants’ fixation with ghost peppers to the presence of sriracha on dining tables...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast Countering the impact of climate change on coffee

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Countering the impact of climate change on coffee

Every year more people wake up to coffee or use it to fuel them...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Separating fact from fiction with probiotics

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Separating fact from fiction when formulating with probiotics

Once restricted to a handful of products, such as yogurt, probiotics are enjoying unprecedented...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast:marketing potential of home shopping television

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: The marketing potential of home shopping television

Home shopping television easily might be overshadowed by food and beverage companies’ growing interest...

Soup-To-Nuts podcast: How doing good can also be good for business

Soup-To-Nuts podcast: How doing good can also be good for business

In today’s highly competitive landscape, many food and beverage manufacturers try to set their...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Using food influencers to market products

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: How to select and best use food influencers to market products

While Americans are becoming more adventurous in what they eat, they often still need...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Global cuisine, complex nutrition claims in 2017

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Global cuisine will rise in 2017 along with complex nutrition claims

Despite a rising nationalism in the US born out of the contentious presidential election...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: The rise of vegan cheese alternatives

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: The cultivation and rise of vegan cheese alternatives

There is no denying that vegan is on the rise with consumers looking for...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast Defining, meeting consumer demand for clean label

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Defining and meeting consumer demand for clean label

The predictable upcoming onslaught of annual New Year’s resolutions to “eat better” could lead to surge...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Expanding cranberries’ appeal beyond the holidays & to a new generation

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Expanding cranberries’ appeal beyond the holidays & to a new generation

For most Americans cranberry sauce is a Thanksgiving staple, but it isn’t the dish...

KRAVE Jerky talks meat snacks at the Fancy Food Show

KRAVE Jerky general manager: It’s our flavors that differentiate us

When KRAVE burst onto the scene in 2010, its all-natural credentials, premium packaging and...

The Good Bean: Our bean snacks are accessible, delicious, affordable

The Good Bean: ‘We want to make bean nutrition accessible, delicious and affordable’

If pulse-based snacks (made with beans, peas, chickpeas, or lentils) were seen as niche,...

Foraging Fox unveils beet ketchup at fancy food show

Beet it: The Foraging Fox offers a new twist on ketchup

Beets are making their way into everything from sports nutrition products to snacks, salads...

Cauli-Rice unveils low-carb shelf-stable cauliflower rice

Cauli-Rice unveils low-carb, preservative-free, shelf-stable alternative to pasta, rice: ‘It took us three years to get it right’

Cauliflower rice is now available in the frozen and chilled sections of some retailers,...

That’s It veggie bars could be bigger than fruit bars, says CEO

That’s It CEO: Our veggie bars could be just as big, if not bigger, than our fruit bars

That’s It fruit bars were an immediate hit, but will the brand’s new veggie...

Dahlicious expands beyond lassi to almond milk yogurt, kefir

Dahlicious moves into new territory with almond milk yogurt and kefir

Dahlicious – a brand best-known for its cultured dairy product, lassi – is moving...

Hfactor taps into Japanese hydrogen-infused water craze

Could molecular hydrogen infused water carve a niche in the functional beverages category?

In regular water, hydrogen is bound to oxygen (H2O) making it "difficult for our...

Rhythm Superfoods talks healthy snacks at the Fancy Food Show

Rhythm Superfoods CEO: 'Our new products will be nutrient dense, shelf-stable and delicious...'

Rhythm Superfoods has just closed a $6m financing round led by Gen Mills' 301...

Dang Foods talks placement for healthy snacks at the Fancy Food Show

Dang Foods: The next generation of whole food snacks belongs in the produce aisle

The next generation of fruit- and vegetable-based whole food snacks belongs in the produce...

Zupa Noma talks drinkable soup at the Fancy Food Show

Are Americans warming to cold soup? It's all about (more) fiber and (less) sugar, says ZÜPA NOMA

Cold soup in a bottle is still a novelty for many Americans, but the...

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Shows & Conferences...