‘We Dumbed Down’: Miyoko’s Creamery Discontinues Vegan Shreds And Slices Range To Honour ‘The Art Of Cheesemaking’
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Miyoko Schinner, founder and CEO of California-based vegan dairy product maker Miyoko’s Creamery, said in a social media post on Friday that the company has removed its full range of plant-based cheese shreds and slices from the market. She called the products “compromises to the values and product guardrails” of the brand. The move is unprecedented, as both product lines are part of the fastest-growing category of vegan cheese in the U.S. market and globally.
Schinner said that the development of shreds and slices, which were some of the newest additions to Miyoko’s portfolio, was a mistake. Having once declared that she would never approve an oil and starch product that offered no nutritional value, she conceded that in order to “play the game”, the company had done just that. A little fermented oat milk and the addition of legumes for protein were not enough to inspire product pride. Schinner has referred to the recipe as a “dumbing down” of the ingredients that set the company apart.
“To join the game, we dumbed down our ingredients and made “cheddar” and “pepperjack” using a familiar formula of oil and starch, but spiked with a bit of fermented oat milk and some legumes for protein,” Schinner wrote. “At the end of the day, it was still not a product I was proud of. In deciding to pull the product off the marketplace, we had to make the decision to take a hit to our revenues in order to re-establish our brand values.”
The products have been discontinued after disappointing sales, though Schinner did allude to future releases that promise to be exciting and more true to brand to boot. “I promise that we will honor the art and craft of cheesemaking, discovering the most nutrient dense plant milks and transforming them into cheese through natural fermentation, coagulation, and aging, to express their unique identity and flavor,” she continued.
A legacy to protect
Miyoko’s launched as, and has remained, an artisan vegan dairy company. Focusing equally on taste and nutrition, it has released fermented plant milk cheeses and butter capable that many have described as capable of disrupting the conventional dairy sector. Late last year, the company started a cooking channel on Youtube dedicated to its vegan butter.
Over the past few years, Miyoko’s has upset major players enough to warrant legal action to retain the right to use terms such as “butter” and “lactose-free”. In a landmark legal victory, last August, Miyoko’s emerged victorious against the State of California’s Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) on the matter of labelling restrictions.
Last February, Miyoko’s closed a $52 million Series C funding round ahead of a game-changing liquid mozzarella launch, which has since debuted to wide acclaim. Wider distribution and formula improvements for existing consumer favourite cheeses and butter were both cited.
The new era of vegan cheese
Entrants into the animal-free dairy sector are proving more innovative than ever. Identifying sustainability as a key ingredient, many companies are looking to see how they can put healthier dairy on the table.
Change Foods recently announced a record-breaking $12 million seed extension funding round. The Australian-Californian startup has now secured more than $15.3 million to bring its precision fermentation dairy to market. Strategic partnerships are in place with two Big Food names, Upfield and Sigma, representing fast track market entry when products are ready and approved.
Chicago-based Nature’s Fynd is taking a different approach, using biomass fermentation and microbes sourced from Yellowstone National Park geysers. The process is claimed to improve texture and nutrition, as well as resource use. The company, which counts Bill Gates as a backer, just gained unicorn status following recent funding rounds totalling more than $350 million.
Within the artisan sphere, Mr. & Mrs. Watson, an Amsterdam startup and restaurant, scooped €700,000 for new product development and facility improvements. Showcasing a range of fermented cashew cheeses, it specialises in whole wheels, with a melting development expected later this year.
All photos by Miyoko’s Creamery.