As South Korea Imports Vegan Papa John’s Pizza, It Exports Almond Cheese

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Papa John’s expands its South Korea vegan presence while a national brand pushes ahead with U.S. almond cheese expansion plans.

U.S. pizza chain giant Papa John’s has brought two new vegan pizza options to 220 locations across South Korea for the first time.

Papa John’s South Korea

The new Papa John’s pizzas, Green Eat Vegetable Margarita and Green Eat Vegetable Garden Special, feature vegan cheese and a certification pass from the U.K.-based Vegan Society.

“Although the domestic market is still small compared to the overseas vegan market, the role of a premium pizza brand is to respond to preferences of each consumer,” Jeon Joong-gu Papa John’s Korea head, said in a statement.

papa john's
Papa John’s brings vegan pizza to South Korea | Courtesy

South Korea has been steadily expanding its stake in the vegan market. Last November, Red Baron pizza’s parent company, South Korea’s food giant CJ CheilJedang, invested in New Culture Foods, a precision fermentation cheese startup. CJ CheilJedang’s holdings accounts for about 25 percent of the U.S. frozen pizza market.

“CJ CheilJedang has invaluable experience and connections in the food and pizza industries that will provide New Culture pivotal scale-up momentum as we push forward our go-to-market strategy,” Matt Gibson, co-founder and CEO, New Culture, said in a statement. “This partnership brings New Culture one step closer to being America’s favorite cheese, animal-free or not.”

Almond cheese comes to the U.S.

The news comes as Armored Fresh, the U.S. subsidiary of South Korea’s Armored Fresh Inc., says it is expanding its U.S. headquarters in Tysons, Virginia for its vegan cheese. Armored Fresh makes dairy-free almond milk-based cheese.

“Northern Virginia and Fairfax County has a rich history in dairy and is advancing in tech innovation. We’re glad to make Fairfax County our home and be part of the vibrant business and innovation community,” Andrew Yu, CEO of Armored Fresh, said in a statement.

“I am thrilled to see an innovator like Armored Fresh expand its Fairfax County headquarters, creating jobs and growing its business capacity,” Jeff McKay, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement. “Their environmentally sustainable approach to healthy food is an example of the type of forward-thinking companies that make their home here, and I especially appreciate the expansion of our economic ties with South Korea.”

Armored Fresh almond cheese is expanding in the U.S.
Armored Fresh almond cheese is expanding in the U.S. | Courtesy

The expansion also earned praise from Virginia’s governor Glenn Youngkin (R).

“It is gratifying to support the growth of an international company like Armored Fresh, whose success further strengthens Virginia’s standing as a prime global business destination,” Youngkin said in a statement. “The company is advancing food technology with its vegan cheese products, and we are proud that this industry innovation is happening right here in the Commonwealth.”

Armored Fresh says it’s investing $125,000 into the expansion, and plans to add 27 jobs to the region. According to the company, its dairy-free cheese “comes super close to matching the taste and texture that people expect in cheese.”

The company, which launched in 2021, says it’s the first to commercialize almond milk cheese. It offers a range of slices, shreds, cubes, and cream cheese. Armored Fresh is targeting retail opportunities in New York City, with plans to expand from there.


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