“We’ve always used grass fed whole milk but now we’re seeing a lot of brands adding whole milk lines because it’s suddenly on-trend, and we’re also seeing more grass-fed claims, although they all mean slightly different things.”
Made in New York State with organic whole milk from grass-fed cows (primarily Jersey and Guernsey cows), Trimona Bulgarian yogurt is not strained like Greek yogurt (the whey stays in), and has a lighter, but creamier texture, says Valev, who has also struck deals with Wegmans, scores of independent retailers, and two Whole Foods regions (northeast and mid-Atlantic).
Made with Valev’s custom-selected live cultures (which he carried in his suitcase from Bulgaria in jars when he arrived in the US in the 1990s), Trimona contains no milk powders, thickeners or added sugar, has a lower pH (3.4-3.5 vs 4.0-4.9) than many other yogurts, and a ‘tangy’ taste, says Valev, an agricultural engineer and yogurt enthusiast convinced that there is life beyond Greek in the yogurt aisle.
While he doesn’t make any claims about this on pack, some people that experience digestive problems when they eat dairy find that they can enjoy Trimona yogurt, which Valev attributes to the fact that his milk comes from Jersey and Guernsey cows, which are known to produce milk with higher levels of A2 beta-casein (a milk protein) and lower levels of A1 beta casein (a milk protein which some researchers link to digestive discomfort click HERE).
Digestive issues after drinking milk are typically attributed to intolerance to lactose (milk sugars) or milk protein allergy (which can be severe). But if both of these have been ruled out and people are still experiencing mild digestive discomfort, one theory is that A1 protein may be causing their problems, argues Valev.
"I think talking about A1 or A2 beta casein is still a new concept for many American consumers but I really think there is something in it as so many people have digestive issues with milk but they are not lactose intolerant. We’d like to use milk containing 100% A2 beta casein, but it's going to take time to get there.
"What I also find interesting is how many women I speak to in their 40s when I am doing instore-demos that say that they used to be able to tolerate dairy and now they can't. It's purely anecdotal, but you wonder what is going on."
“Obviously people have been eating fermented milk products for thousands of years, but the culture now used as standard in yogurt production [Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus] was discovered by a Bulgarian microbiologist Dr. Stamen Grigorov back in 1905.
“And his work was a big influence on [Nobel prize winner] Élie Metchnikoff [Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov], from the Pasteur Institute in Paris [who reckoned all that fermented dairy might have something to do with the longevity of Bulgarian peasants]. And this guy was the father of probiotics.”
Atanas Valev, founder, Trimona Foods
Trimona's new range of mix-in products (blueberry lavender; raspberry coconut; honey ginger cinnamon; and mango passion fruit) have just hit stores and repeat orders are already coming in, which is encouraging, says Valev.
“We got the inspiration for the new packaging design from Bulgarian pottery designs, and it definitely stands our better on shelf.”