Cleveland meals producer spreads cheer with wholesome ‘clear label’ choices

Hurwitz and Meany purchased Purple Lotus Meals in 2017, rebranding it as The Dairy Free Co. two years later. Hurwitz has an entrepreneurial background, beginning firms principally within the branding and product-licensing area. Meany has expertise in finance and advertising, together with a stint at Kraft Meals.

The Dairy Free Co. has moved twice for the reason that changeover, most lately relocating to the Central Kitchen Meals Hub on Carnegie Avenue in Cleveland. One other co-founder, LaunchHouse’s Todd Goldstein, now runs Whoa! Dough, a regional producer of edible cookie dough bars.

The prevailing homeowners manufacture their wares at Central Kitchen with a staff of six staff. Their merchandise are bought nationwide at Heinen’s, Big Eagle, Sprouts, Entire Meals and a bevy of espresso outlets and smaller retailers. The enterprise’s latest sunflower seed-centered product was born from necessity, as Hurwitz and Meany sought to diversify their line in response to potential cashew shortages within the provide chain.

“Plus, we had to have a look at tree-nut allergy symptoms, so we stated let’s attempt sunflower seeds as an alternative,” Meany stated. “It is an superior product that our clients are going loopy for. Seeds have a decrease water footprint than tree nuts as effectively.”

Big Eagle will carry the brand new line starting this month, illuminating the grocery chain’s persevering with foray into new and wholesome choices, notes spokesperson Jannah Jablonowski.

“We regularly try to search out progressive companions, particularly these native to the communities we serve,” Jablonowski stated in an e-mail. “The Dairy Free Co.’s plant-based dips and spreads are an amazing instance of the wonderful meals experience that Northeast Ohio has to supply. Their merchandise convey thrilling taste combos to the desk — whether or not as an ingredient for a meal or loved on their very own — and we’re excited to make them out there to our company.”

Well being and wellness influencers are maybe the corporate’s most necessary champions, the homeowners say. In a latest publish, self-described “mother influencer” Paula Murdock might be seen posing with Dairy Free merchandise for her 19,000 Instagram followers. Regionally, Ian Taylor and Jake Loughner — in any other case identified on Instagram because the Vegan Guys From Ohio — show related assist by way of recipes and reverential product write-ups.

“Dairy Free checks all of the bins for us inside the market — vegan-friendly, native, environmentally minded and versatile,” Taylor stated in an e-mail. “They do not fall into any pre-existing unfold, and kind of created their very own class. Not solely are their flavors distinctive, however their product is in contrast to some other unfold on the market.”

Creating new merchandise in the course of the pandemic hasn’t been simple, contemplating at the moment defunct college-age focus teams encompassed a big portion of the corporate’s style testers. For his or her Take it Cheezy cashew-based dip, the companions tabbed family and friends for suggestions, bringing the product to market in fall 2020.

Labor and provide chain points haven’t prevented the enterprise from fulfilling orders for key retail companions. Meany expects additional scale-up in 2022 as nationwide chains welcome in new Dairy Free Co. choices.

“Getting our product on the shelf is half the purpose — the opposite half is getting it into the client’s cart,” Meany stated. “We’re sensible sufficient to know what we do not know, and are available at this enterprise with out ego. We additionally wish to construct a passionate staff that understands our merchandise. We have finished effectively to this point, and hope to maintain constructing.”