There was a time when plant-based companies struggled to receive investments. In the late 90s and early 2003s for example, Miyoko Schinner, now known for her company Miyoko’s Kitchen, could not find any investors for her previous business, Now and Zen. She closed her business in 2003 and two years ago, launched Miyoko’s Kitchen with plans of crafting artisanal vegan cheese to be sold at a north California brick-and-mortar. According to San Francisco Gate, the company, which started out producing 800 rounds of cheese per week, now makes up to 100,000 per month. In addition to specialty stores, you can now find Miyoko’s Kitchen products in large-scale grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, where you can find her Cultured VeganButter.
Soon, we’ll be seeing even more plant-based cheeses and dairy-free butter rolling out into even more stores nationwide, as Schinner has just received a $6 million investment to build an even larger production plant in Petaluma, California. The investment comes from JMK Consumer Growth Partners, an investment company that seeks to invest in high-growth companies as well as entrepreneurs who fill gaps in the marketplace. Miyoko’s Kitchen, which exclusively produces vegan cheeses and dairy-free butter, fits the bill. According to San Francisco Gate, “Schinner expects to hit $10 million in sales this year, and 10 times that in five years.”
Miyoko’s Kitchen previously received investments from Obvious Ventures, the venture capital firm launched by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and Biz Stone, which has also invested in plant-based companies Beyond Meat and Urban Remedy. With this new investment, Schinner plans to produce a line of basic vegan cheeses, such as cheddar, which will retail from $5 to $6 as opposed to the average $10 for a round of artisanal cheese.
Schinner’s success comes as a result of a burgeoning movement in the world of food. More than ever, people are eschewing animal products in favor of plant-based alternatives. Dairy-free alternatives in particular have seen massive growth and Miyoko is not the first plant-based cheese company to receive a big investment. In 2016, General Mills invested $18 million in Lyrical Foods’ brand Kite Hill, which specializes in dairy-free cheeses and yogurt. Schinner attributes the rapid growth of plant-based food to Millennials, stating, “People are eating foods that align to their mission in life. It’s more about conscious eating and the relationship between the food on your plate and the impact it has, not just on your own health.”
As Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder of One Green Planet, has said,”The fact is, there is a whole new dairy-free market rising as one-third of consumers prefer dairy-free milks. Dairy-free milk sales represent a $2 billion category and growth is expected to continue outpacing dairy milk sales at least through 2018. In addition, natural groceries saw annual sales of dairy-free cheese rise 22.7 percent in 2014 alone to $30 million – and dairy-free is also one of the fastest growing segments in yogurt and with eight percent dollar sales growth year over year, this segment is estimated to reach $2.9 billion by 2017.”
The numbers don’t lie: we are in the midst of a food revolution and the future of food, without a doubt, is plant-based.
Lead image source: Miyoko’s Kitchen