Miyoko Schinner has been making vegan cheese and butter for 30 years, but her creations have only recently become an all-out success.
Schinner got her start teaching cooking classes and hosting a cooking show nearly four decades ago. After promoting her fourth cookbook, which featured cheese made from cashews, she started Miyoko’s Creamery in 2014.
“At the time there was no good vegan food available,” says CEO Schinner, a Japanese immigrant who lives on an animal sanctuary in Northern California’s western Marin County on land grazed by some 70 creatures like cows and donkeys. “I was a bonafide gourmand. I was determined to make foods that were delectable, healthy and vegan.”
Her brand now sells alternatives to butter, cream cheese and mozzarella, along with other dairy-free products made from nuts, oats and legumes at 20,000 stores including Walmart and Target. Estimated 12-month revenue has doubled to more than $30 million, as more shoppers turned to plant-based foods.
“Covid-19 came along and it forced us to pivot,” the 63-year-old says, describing her company’s recent push to sell online and ship directly to customers, after focusing on grocery stores and menu collaborations with restaurant chains. “The demand for our products has been at an all-time high.”
Schinner now employs some 170 workers and has raised $23 million, according to Pitchbook, with the last round of $11 million from early 2019 continuing to propel Miyoko’s Creamery to the forefront of this still-nascent industry.
“I had an alt-meat company back in the 1990s. It was hard to find investors,” says Schinner. “Now they are just lining up at the door to throw money at plant-based businesses. People are beginning to see it is the future.”
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