- Plant-based cheese pioneer Miyoko's Creamery raised $52 million in Series C funding. PowerPlant Partners led the round — committing a total of $40 million — and Cult Capital, Obvious Ventures, Stray Dog and CPT Capital also participated.
- Miyoko's plans to use these funds to expand to more conventional grocery, club and foodservice outlets and continue developing better nutrient density, performance and flavor. In the second half of the year, the company plans to launch Liquid, a pizza mozzarella that pours like sauce and bakes into a stretchy cheese, and reformulate its Medium Cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses.
- Plant-based represents only about 3% of the $34.3 billion cheese space, according to statistics from SPINS, so it's an area that is ripe for growth. Many legacy dairy cheesemakers aren't getting involved in the segment, leaving the door open for plant-based companies like Miyoko's to define it.
From the time that Miyoko Schinner's "Artisan Vegan Cheese" was published in 2012, her name has been synonymous with fine plant-based cheese. Schinner published her how-to book after applying what she learned in cheesemaking classes to plant-based ingredients. The company bearing her name was founded two years later, in 2014.
Miyoko's Creamery has developed an array of plant-based cheeses and butters that are currently available in 30,000 stores in the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Hong Kong and Singapore. The company has a cult following, and was one of the first to combine traditional cheesemaking methods with food science to make cheeses and butters out of plant milks, instead of the oils and starches that had previously been used.
The private company does not disclose sales figures, but business has been good, Schinner has said. She told Food Navigator the company saw 70% growth last year — a number that could have been higher if not for pandemic-related restrictions. She plans for the same growth rate this year, she told the trade publication. The press release announcing the funding says Miyoko's European Style Butter is the top-selling plant-based butter in the natural grocery channel nationwide.
"The company’s rapid growth in just a few short years would not be possible without our unique approach to product innovation," Schinner said in the press release announcing the funding. "We are never satisfied and are always looking for ways to improve the taste, nutrition and performance of the products we craft."
And Schinner has many innovations on deck. The Liquid product could help Miyoko's Creamery get more into foodservice, which is a targeted expansion area with the new funding round. The revamping of the Medium Cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses is also likely to pay dividends. According to a recent YouGov poll, cheddar cheese is the favorite in the U.S., picked by nearly one in five respondents. Pepper Jack was tied for fifth. The company launched kid-targeted Vegan Cheddar Sticks in June. And, Schinner told Food Navigator she has developed a plant-based cottage cheese that will debut in September at Natural Products Expo East.
Miyoko's Creamery is also ramping up its business and marketing strategies to grow. Last year, the company moved into a larger headquarters and production facility in California, with plans to increase its R&D space and increase the employee count by 25%. The company also recently launched two timely promotions. The Cheese of Champions program partners with vegan U.S. Olympic medalists to show how plant-based diets improved their performance. The company — which is based in California's wine country — also launched the Wine Country 2.0 program last month, partnering with local wineries, restaurants, hotels and other businesses to show visitors a more sustainable and compassionate view of the region.
Miyoko's isn't the only company in the space hauling in money for product development. Last month, Nobell Foods, a company still in its R&D phase that makes plant-based casein for its cheeses, received a $75 million investment. But there is room in the segment for many players. The press release announcing Miyoko's funding references a projection from investment firm William Blair: If consumers adopt plant-based dairy products at the same rate as they have plant-based milk, the retail opportunity is close to $10 billion.