“We really need to make sure we continue our market leadership, and I think marketing is a big piece of the puzzle creating more awareness or understanding the ingredients [and] more accessibility — that's another big piece in terms of distribution channels. Where is it? How do you get it? Why do people want it?" Kronauge told FoodNavigator-USA.
Kronauge finds 'inspiration' in Miyoko Schinner
Earlier this year, Miyoko’s Creamery board of directors voted to remove the renowned chef, animal rights activist, and founder of the brand Miyoko Schinner, from whom the brand takes its name, following a disagreement on the best direction forward for the company. Miyoko’s CMO Jon Blair served as interim CEO while the company searched for a new CEO.
Following Schinner's departure, the two parties engaged in a public dispute with the board suing Schinner for alleged document theft, and Schinner countering with a wrongful termination lawsuit. The two later resolved their legal dispute, and the brand acknowledged in a LinkedIn Post “the tremendous creativity, hard work, and integrity of its founder, Miyoko Schinner.”
As Kronauge begins her tenure as CEO, she says she wants to acknowledge Schinner's legacy, noting that she was “a fan girl” and “[looks] to her for inspiration.”
“She has an incredible legacy. I mean look what she's done—it's phenomenal. And the brand has an incredible legacy. There's absolutely zero chance that I'm going to not respect that, acknowledge that, and hold that very carefully in my hands,” Kronauge said. “What Miyoko’s wants is what I want, which is the democratization of better eating, and I think her commitment and vision to delicious plant-based food with high quality and a great company with good values and trying to be a force for good that is all right in my wheelhouse.”
Kronauge: 'I want to get the swagger back to the brand'
Kronauge will focus on expanding Miyoko's presence through marketing, increased distribution, and innovation.
“I want to get the swagger back to the brand... I want more people to know about [the innovation]. I want the awareness to be up. I want people to get it where they want it. And all of those things, to me if I could take this amazing brand and scale it in a way that is sustainable and profitable and growing, that is absolutely job number one.”
A big part of growing the brand is ensuring “that the relationship with both our customers and our consumers is as great as it can be,” and understanding what the consumer wants out of plant-based products, Kronauge said. Increasingly, younger consumers have a bigger influence on what groceries a household buys and will be a key demographic in growing the business, she noted.
"We need to understand where and why and what consumers want and, I think, more work needs to be done with Miyoko's in that regard, while respecting our core who we love. ... They're the ones who brought us to the dance."
Another opportunity to grow the brand will be in the foodservice space, which has been a key focus of numerous plant-based brands in the US and abroad, Kronauge noted. Earlier this year, Miyoko’s Creamery announced a partnership with Dot Foods to bring its Pourable Plant Milk Mozzarellas and Plant Milk Butter to more foodservice establishments.
“There's so much untapped potential for this brand. That the growth strategy is going to come by having more consumers and more units. And you just got to balance that in a way where ... the margins are right, the unit economics are right, [and increase] ... the actual people involved in the franchise and the brand, and that's always the game.”