Kite Hill rolls out cultured nut milk yogurts at Whole Foods nationwide

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Kite Hill cultured almond 'yogurts' at Whole Foods in St Paul Minnesota
Kite Hill cultured almond 'yogurts' at Whole Foods in St Paul Minnesota

Related tags: Milk

Kite Hill - the plant-based brand on a mission to disrupt the dairy case - has moved beyond cheese with the launch of a cultured almond milk yogurt at Whole Foods stores nationwide, which will be followed by single-serve cheesecakes and a seasonal pumpkin tart.

The plain yogurt​ (MSRP of $1.79-$1.99 per 5.3oz pot) has 5g sugar, 6g protein and 160 calories and is made with water, almonds, cane sugar, locust bean gum, xanthan gum, agar, and live active cultures, says the firm, which claims it is markedly different in taste and texture from other non-dairy yogurts.

The other flavors are strawberry, blueberry, peach, and vanilla.

While plant-based milks now account for almost 10% of the $25bn fluid 'milk' (dairy and non-dairy) market, companies that have tried to replicate this success with plant-based butter, cheese and yogurt, have not been able to make any real dent in these markets - yet, says Matthew Sade, CEO at Kite Hill brand owner Lyrical Foods.

But that is primarily because the products have not really delivered on taste and texture, claims the Hayward, CA-based company, which is building a whole platform of plant-based products​ it claims will transform perceptions of plant-based ‘dairy’.

Product is different in taste and texture from other non-dairy yogurts

Speaking at the Bon Appétech conference in San Francisco over the weekend, Sade said: “The barriers to entry in plant-based ‘milk’ market are fairly low, but it’s a lot harder to make butter, or acidified, cultured (non-dairy) cheese and yogurt​. However, we have developed our own proprietary process which finally delivers on the promise of a plant-based yogurt that is as good as traditional cow’s milk yogurt.”

He told FoodNavigator-USA: “The taste is richer and creamier ​[than rival offerings from So Delicious and Almond Dream] and doesn’t separate like those other products. We are very much like a true European-style yogurt.”

Kite Hill ricotta
Matthew Sade: 'We see significant potential for our products in overseas markets'

We see significant potential for our products in overseas markets

Kite Hill products - which include almond milk cheeses, cream-cheese-style cheeses, and chilled ravioli in addition to the new desserts - are in Whole Foods stores nationwide, and are set to roll out to a wider customer base next year as the firm ramps up capacity to meet demand, added Sade.

But he is also fielding inquiries from leading overseas retailers and food manufacturers:

“We see significant potential for our products in overseas markets and we’ve been contacted by some of the largest dairies in China that see a big future for plant-based dairy, and that says something, because these are businesses built on cow’s milk.

“But we have also been contacted by large EU retailers that are intrigued by our process​ [instead of using nut pastes, Kite Hill makes almond milk from nuts and water, and then cultures it using proprietary cultures and enzymes to separate it out into solids and liquids, just as traditional cheese makers do].”

Kite Hill strip
Founded by vegan celebrity chef Tal Ronnen, cheesemaker Monte Casino and acclaimed Stanford biochemist Dr Pat Brown, Lyrical Foods has some heavyweight VC backing in the form of Khosla Ventures (which has also invested in Hampton Creek and Instacart).

Selling non-dairy cheese to the French

If the French – who know a thing or two about making cheese - think they can sell Kite Hill products, that’s a pretty good sign the firm could be onto a winner, added Sade, a serial entrepreneur who most recently headed up marketing for meat-alternative firm Impossible Foods.

“We’re a small brand with very big ambitions.”

While almonds are expensive, and Kite Hill is exploring how its technology might apply to a range of other plant-based source materials, dairy prices would ultimately go up, such that nut-based products would be on a par, or even cheaper, he predicted. 

Read more about Kite Hill HERE​.

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