I am happy to report that Treeline has made it through its first full year since 2018 with me (the founder) fully back in charge. I have to say I am really pleased with how it has gone and grateful to all who have helped make 2023 a turning point in the company’s history.
I haven’t seen so much change in a single year since our French-Style Cashew Cheeses first appeared on the scene over ten years ago. A lot of that change has happened behind the scenes (like our factory achieving one of the highest possible levels of food safety certification) but some of it is a lot more obvious.
Like our NEW PACKAGING!
You might already have seen it in your local natural food store, or on our website. It’s not just a lot more beautiful than the last version. It reflects our independence, authenticity and commitment to what we do. It also represents my rejection of the ubiquitous corporate cookie-cutter products that “Big Food” keeps putting out.
And some FANTASTIC NEW PRODUCTS!
While the vegan divisions of Big Food have been churning out more and more homogenous, high saturated fat, low protein concoctions that resemble cheese, we have been hard at work inventing products that meet Treeline's AUTHENTICALLY VEGAN food criteria - no dairy, low saturated fat, a good amount of protein and only ingredients that are immediately recognizable as food.
After over a year of experiments and lots of taste tests, we finally released three new products. Each is innovative in its own right. But this time, instead of inventing something completely from scratch - as I did with our signature French-Style Cashew Cheeses - we have looked to some old favorites that the plant based divisions of Big Food just can’t seem to get right: - PIMENTO CHEESE, RICOTTA and SOUR CREAM.
I won’t go into any detailed descriptions of them here. You really have to try them to experience just how good they are.
MORE GOOD THINGS ARE COMING!
The next innovation to come from Treeline, is healthy and delicious dips. We have made a huge variety of flavors, but for now we are working on getting three of them into stores early next year - TZATZIKI, SOUR CREAM & ONION DIP and CREAMY CURRY DIP. Look for an announcement in the spring of 2024.
We have lots more products under development, but it’s too soon to talk about them. I will keep you informed of our progress.
2023 also brought its share of CHALLENGES, the biggest of which was the emphatic entry of Big Food (like Kraft and Oatly) and some very well-funded startups into the vegan cheese market, even though most vegan cheese companies - big and small - have seen significant drops in their sales. Some smaller vegan cheese companies have even gone out of business entirely.
What really sent a shockwave through the vegan cheese world, was the ouster of Miyoko Schinner, a leading vegan voice and founder of one of the leading mission-driven vegan cheese companies. You already know all about that. But the story didn’t end with her ouster. Shortly after the money men moved her out, her successor announced that the company would lay off its entire hometown factory staff and outsource all of its manufacturing.
The outsourcing of vegan cheese production - often to dairy cheese manufacturers - is a growing trend as Big Food moves in on the vegan cheese market and venture capitalists try to bring their investments to profitability.
On its face, the entry of Big Food (which includes Big Dairy and Big Meat) into the vegan cheese space seems to be a good thing. After all, isn’t this how capitalism works? Won’t this mean more vegan products in more stores at lower prices? Maybe. But when you dig a bit deeper, it starts to look very ominous. I think the vegan cheese business might be losing its soul.
THAT will be the subject of my next letter.
In the meantime, I am very happy to tell you that Treeline is still very much in business and is still totally independent. Our products are better than ever. Our 100% dairy-free manufacturing facility is still here in New York’s Hudson Valley, where it has been for the past ten years. And we still care deeply about the products we make and the people who make them.
Finally - A BIG THANK YOU!
No vegan company can survive without loyal customers. So as this very challenging year comes to an end, I want to thank you for your support. There is a lot at stake in the vegan movement and there’s a lot at stake for me and Treeline. But with the support of people who share a commitment to making the world a better place, and using vegan cheese to do that, Treeline will thrive and keep vegan cheese AUTHENTICALLY VEGAN!
I wish you and your family the very best for the holidays and for 2024. Let’s strive for peace in our world - in our interactions with each other, with our animal friends and with our planet.
Stay tuned for my next update!