This vegan cheese was chosen as a pick of the week for Phil's Food Reviews. We caught up with Miyoko Schinner, CEO and Founder of Miyoko’s Kitchen to find out more about how this outstanding HIT product was developed.
What inspired you to create your new product? Is there a particular niche or segment of the market you were focusing on?
We wanted people who couldn’t have dairy products for whatever reason -- whether vegan, lactose intolerant, or just watching their cholesterol intake -- to be able to indulge in the same way on a Friday night with a glass of wine and a cheese platter. If you can have your cheese and eat it too, using fewer resources than dairy production and without causing harm to animals, that’s a reason to raise a glass and toast.
What makes your product different and able to stand out against similar ones? How important has differentiation been in developing this product?
Our cheeses are made from certified organic, whole foods, not just oils and starches. We also have the widest range of flavors and textures. We used age-old artisanal cheese making techniques such as culturing, brining, and aging to produce a stellar line-up of vegan cheeses that rival their dairy counterparts in depth and range of flavors and artistry.
What was the process like of designing your package, and how do you feel the final result has impacted perceptions of your product?
We wanted a package that sung out quality, artistry, tradition, and cutting edge, giving a hint of the beautiful product within. We think we succeeded fairly well -- people comment on its beauty frequently.
Does your product have relevant health attributes? What are they?
Studies have shown that consuming a handful of nuts, the amount in a wedge or two of our cheese, on a daily basis decreases the risk of heart disease. Our cheeses are devoid of cholesterol and contain predominantly healthful monounsaturated fats. They also lack antibiotics, estrogen, and growth hormones, both artificial and natural, that are frequently found in dairy cheese.
What sustainability efforts have you made with your product/packaging?
Our boxes are made from partly recycled paper, and are, of course, completely recyclable. We have tried to balance sustainability with shelf-life by choosing recyclable plastic vacuum packaging.
Through creating a new product, what would you say were the most difficult parts of the process and what came the easiest?
Because we took a small-batch artisanal approach to our initial product line and have grown so fast, the most difficult part has been figuring out how to scale and produce consistency for products that contain live cultures. We have worked hard to establish ambient and other controls to achieve standards and consistency. The easiest? Creating new flavor combinations. We frequently offer a limited edition product, and it’s the most fun!
Anything you would change if you were starting from scratch again?
Anticipate the success of the product with consumers and start the business in a bigger facility!
Besides your product, what's one out on the market that you admire?
We love innovation, and admire Follow Your Heart, which just introduced VeganEgg, the first egg substitute that scrambles. We love the traditional cardboard egg carton packaging, too!