By using “new-school recipes and simple, modern ingredients,” Moocho strives to offer plant-based alternatives to dairy cheese that do not compromise on taste, texture or function – a triple threat that the CEO of Moocho and Tofurky says many existing products have not yet mastered due to technological and ingredient limitations
“A lot of the products on the market right now have been around for a few years and things have changed. One thing that has been really great with plant-based being so on the rise is that ingredient companies are noticing that opportunity and we have more functional ingredients available to us. Essentially new technologies available to us that were not before,” Jaime Athos, CEO and president of Moocho and Tofurky, told FoodNavigator-USA via webcam.
He explained that most “version 1.0” non-dairy alternatives to cheese were either good served cold but didn’t melt, melted but didn’t really function texturally when cold, or relied on traditional fermentation to create the flavor of dairy cheese but might lack the other functional attributes.
“What we have tried to do is capture the best of all three of those functional categories of cheese, and we think we have achieved that” with the creation of Moocho shreds and spreads, which will be available in three styles each, Athos said.
He explained: “The thing that we have done is pretty simple actually. We have taken those functional ingredients – those starches and whatnot that create really good cold textures and the other starches that create really good stretch and we have come up with the right blend of those two functional types of ingredients.”
He added that the “secret sauce,” though, is the fermentation, that creates a round and full flavor experience.
The new products originally were slated to hit store shelves this summer, but many retailers have delayed resets and adding new products while shoppers continue to stockpile products and limit trips to and time in stores. As such, Tofurky is working hard to make existing products that consumers want available and will expand distribution and support for Moocho’s new products once retailers are better positioned to add and promote new SKUs.
In preparation for this expansion, the company decided to clearly distinguish Moocho as a standalone brand separate from Tofurky to reduce the risk of consumer confusion. But Athos still sees significant synergies between the two lines for future product innovation.
“The really obvious opportunities are the synergies between Moocho and Tofurky,” Athos said. “We have got the cheeses, we have the proteins and now these can go together and make magic.”
For example, he said, the two might be combined in Tofurky’s line of pockets, or other meal solutions.
Improved positioning in stores
Beyond product expansion, Tofurky, Moocho and other key plant-based brands are working together with retailers to boost the visibility of their products in stores. While this could provide increased access to a broader consumer base, it also might require plant-based brands rethink their packaging.
Athos explained that while many plant-based meat and cheese alternatives are stocked in the produce aisle, the industry is researching whether it makes more sense to stock them alongside their animal-based counterparts.
With this in mind, he said, Tofurky, Moocho and others must consider how their packaging looks alongside both plant- and animal-based competitors. They also need to clearly explain what is inside so if placed alongside animal products, they can be spotted quickly by vegetarians, vegans and others who might not feel comfortable look at packaged meat.