Miyoko Schinner is a perfect illustration of the American dream. To the U.S. dairy industry, however, she is something altogether different.
A Japanese immigrant, Schinner started a small company that blossomed into a wildly successful vegan cheese maker, one with the potential to do for dairy alternatives what Beyond Meat is doing for beef substitutes. Her business, Miyoko’s Kitchen, began in 2014 as an e-commerce platform, trading on the popularity of her vegan cheese cookbook. After one weekend in which she received $50,000 worth of orders, Schinner knew her 40-pound batches wouldn’t be enough to satisfy demand.
So she figured out how to make 1,500 pounds an hour, raised $25 million and built a 30,000 square-foot facility in Petaluma, California. “It was very difficult to scale,” said Schinner, now 61. Making dairy alternatives out of ingredients like cashews and rice miso doesn’t always work as planned.
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