Talking Shop with… Victoria Gray, Daiya Foods

Victoria Gray, marketing director, Daiya Foods, says consumers want foods that meet their dietary needs but still taste good. 

daiya_logo_CMYKTell us about Daiya. What makes your company unique?

Victoria Gray: Daiya Foods was founded in 2008 by longtime friends, Greg Blake and Andre Kroecher. They had been searching for an alternative to cheese and had not been able to find one that satisfied their cravings. After many kitchen experiments, disasters and minor catastrophes, they finally ended up creating what they were looking for: something that melted, stretched and tasted just like real cheese.

At Daiya, our focus is on making truly delicious dairy-free products that are also free of soy and gluten. We believe that people should not have to sacrifice taste just because they cannot, or choose not to, eat dairy. Our commitment to delivering a plant-based alternative has been received with overwhelmingly positive responses from consumers. We feel very lucky to have such amazing Daiya fans—their feedback makes all that we do very worthwhile.

The name Daiya (pronounced ‘day-ah’) came from a play on the word ‘dairy.’ In Sanskrit, Dayaa means “loving, kindness and compassion,” which are the values our company was founded on.

Daiya products are free of dairy products. How does that benefit consumers?

Daiya products are not just delicious, but they are also lower in fat and calories per serving than a typical dairy-based cheese. Our products are plant-based so they have 0 mg of cholesterol per serving and are free of trans fat, artificial ingredients, preservatives, hormones and antibiotics. Because they are free of three of the most common allergens—dairy, soy and gluten—our products make it much easier to meet the growing dietary needs of consumers. When you add up the number of people with food allergies, vegetarians/vegans and those with cholesterol concerns, there are a potential 156 million consumers in the U.S. who can benefit from Daiya products.

Education must be a big part of the process. How do you help in this regard, in-store and through other vehicles?

Given how much people use the Internet for shopping and research, we leverage digital channels to help educate consumers on both our products and how to enjoy dairy-free foods in general. Through our website and social media, we provide tips on how to incorporate Daiya products into everyday cooking. We also answer all kinds of questions about our products, such as “what are they made of?” and “where can I find them?”

How should retailers merchandise your products?

We know so many consumers are looking for our products. We find it best to ensure our products are merchandised prominently so consumers can find them easily in the stores. Many grocers are now merchandising our products next to dairy-based cheese and, as a result, department managers are seeing increases in their overall department revenue.

What does the future look like?

The growing dietary needs of consumers is driving the proliferation of new alternatives, and the quality of those alternatives is increasing. Consumers are looking for products that meet their specific dietary requirements but still deliver all the taste and versatility of conventional products. As a result, there is a lot of innovation happening in the manufacturing of food through the use of new and evolving ingredients, new processes and new packaging. 

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