Industry News | March 2, 2015 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Vegan Cheese More Popular for When Dairy Won't Do

Daiya is in talks with burger and sandwich concepts to roll out its sliced vegan cheese. image used with permission.

This February, Pieology Pizza became the latest restaurant to form a partnership with Daiya vegan cheese, which has become a staple on the menu at many fast-casual pizza chains, including Uncle Maddio’s and Blaze Pizza.

As demand for dairy- and gluten-free products grows, Daiya is hoping to expand further into the fast-casual and quick-service space and is in discussion with various national sandwich and burger concepts.

Daiya’s North American business development manager, Ashley Gilday, says the popularity of Daiya’s alternative cheese—and especially its Mozzarella Shreds—is due to the product’s resemblance to real dairy cheese.

“The taste and texture is as close to dairy-based cheese that you can find, and our product melts better than any dairy alternative in the market,” Gilday says.

Taste isn’t the only factor to consider when thinking about dairy alternatives for the menu. Many vegan substitutes are soy- or nut-based, which are common allergens and are often genetically modified. Daiya’s products are primarily made with pea protein, are gluten-free, and don’t contain any of the top eight allergens. Menu offerings without the top eight allergens help make a restaurant a viable option for customers with a range of dietary restrictions.

“Our products aren’t just for vegans. There are about 100 million Americans who are dairy-sensitive—either allergic, lactose intolerant, or just avoiding dairy for religious reasons or ethical reasons. There’s a huge market of dairy avoiders,” Gilday says. “Looking to cater to all dietary needs, you can capture groups who are going out together when the person driving the decision-making has a dietary restriction.”

Analyzing supply chain economics is equally important when weighing the pros and cons of adding a vegan offering to the menu. Gilday says Daiya aims to remove any obstacles and supply its customers with ease.

“For people looking to source our products, we can help them get from step A to step B, no matter what their supply chain process looks like,” Gilday says. “We’re passionate about our products, we’re experts in the industry, and we do have national distribution with top broad-line distributors, and also many regional distributors.”

Gilday says the value of adding a dairy- and allergen-free offering to the menu cannot be overstated.

“Having a dairy alternative means not having to turn away a large—and growing—group of individuals, and should be in the minds of any sort of restaurant operator, from quick service to fine dining,” she says.

By Emily Byrd

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