BOULDER, COLO. — Estimated to top nearly $78 million in sales in 2016, the plant-based yogurt segment is growing by 50% annually, outpacing the growth of dairy-based yogurts by more than 10 times, according to SPINS data. But the category remains relatively underdeveloped, said Doug Radi, chief executive officer of Good Karma Foods, a producer of flaxseed-based milk alternatives.
The brand is launching a line of dairy-free yogurts featuring flax, pea protein and live and active cultures. With 5 to 6 grams of protein per serving, Good Karma Dairy Free Yogurts are available in blueberry, strawberry, vanilla, plain and raspberry flavors.
|Doug Radi, c.e.o. of Good Karma Foods|
“In the natural channel, 25% of all fluid milk sold is plant-based milk, but only 8% of yogurt is plant-based yogurt,” Mr. Radi told Food Business News. “In the conventional channel, where 8% of all fluid milk sold is plant-based, less than 1% of yogurt is plant-based. In the plant-based yogurt category, you may have seen products that had runny textures or products that didn’t taste very good or inherently tasted like coconut or nuts or soy. And very few of them other than soy yogurt had any protein or nutrition in them at all.
“So we really saw an opportunity to bring a new product to market that for the better part tasted like the conventional counterparts. We really wanted to deliver great taste, great nutrition, and have an allergen-friendly, all-family appeal.”
Good Karma Foods offers a range of flaxseed-based milk alternatives and dairy-free probiotic drinkable yogurts with 1,200 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in each serving.
“We’re a 20-year-old company with 4-year-old brand,” Mr. Radi said. “We were founded by a great plant-based vegan formulator committed to this space, and largely over the years we’ve done predominately private label products, but when we became the first to market with a seed milk that’s also when we decided to launch the business as a branded products play. That’s our focus now. We’re not really in the private label business now.”
The company has captured steady, strong growth since launching the brand, Mr. Radi said, adding, “the brand has almost tripled in the last two and a half, three years.”
Having previously held marketing and management roles at WhiteWave Foods and Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Mr. Radi is no stranger to the natural and organic marketplace. In the dairy-free category, he has witnessed increasing demand from mainstream consumers over the years.
“There are so many new people coming into the category for different reasons,” Mr. Radi said. “The dairy intolerant and dairy allergic were some of the earliest people to the category, and presence of allergens in households are increasing; one out of 13 families has a kid with an allergy nowadays according to FARE (Food Allergy Research Education). There’s an increasing and continued attraction to the category from that group.
“And (vegans) have been coming to the category for a long time. But what’s really interesting more recently is consumers, largely led by the millennials, are just finding that they’re looking for more balance in their diets between plant- and animal-based foods…. And then the last group is folks who might be coming to the category for environmental reasons. Plant-based agriculture is more sustainable than animal-based and more regenerative in a lot of ways, and so you see a lot of people coming because of that.”
Compared to nut- and soy-based dairy alternatives, Good Karma’s flaxseed-based products have several nutritional advantages, Mr. Radi said.
“If you look at almond milk, almonds in general are high in protein, but almond milk has only one gram per 8-oz serving,” he said. “One serving of flaxmilk has 1,200 mg of plant-based omega 3s. What we also strive to do beyond that is add and plus up the nutritional profile of our flaxmilks. So, for example, we have a lineup that is fortified with pea protein, so not only does it have the benefits of flax oil, we also fortify with as much calcium and vitamin D as milk, but now we also have pea protein. So the complete bundle of nutrition in our products is far more significant than a lot of other products in the category. That’s how we think about it.
“Largely the category for a long time was free-of instead of being full-of. It was free of dairy, but it also didn’t have the same amount of nutrition as dairy, and that’s something we really strive to grow not only from our brand but also bring more nutrition to the segment.”
Good Karma’s products are sold nationwide in approximately 6,000 retail outlets.Looking forward, the company intends “to play predominately in the plant-based dairy space, and we see there is tremendous opportunity to elevate the nutritional story of categories, but also start to create products within these categories, whether it’s a yogurt or a drinkable yogurt product to other dairy segments — dips, single-serve beverages, other places where we think there’s a real opportunity to elevate the taste and nutrition story for plant-based food and beverage,” Mr. Radi said. “That’s what we see our mission as and what consumers are asking us to do.”