Margaret Coons: Nuts for Cheese Has Enjoyed Explosive Growth in the Natural Product Category

July 9, 2022

Since launching at a farmer’s market stand in 2015, Nuts For Cheese has enjoyed explosive growth in the natural product category, producing Canada’s top-selling line of artisan, organic, vegan cheese.

Handcrafted from the highest quality, ethically sourced ingredients, Nuts For Cheese makes a stunning charcuterie centrepiece and versatile ingredient. Our line of cashew cheese comes in six innovative flavours that can be found at major retailers across North America.

We believe in the ability to spread positive, sustainable change through food and are on a mission to prove plant-based diets no longer cater to vegans alone; they cater to everyone.

As a Certified LGBT+, Women Business Enterprise, we embrace diversity at the heart of all that we do.

Tell us about yourself?

As a young vegan, I became acutely aware of a lack of high-quality, delicious, plant-based alternatives on the market and began to create my own. I started Nuts For Cheese in 2015, while working as a vegan chef and introducing a plant-based cheese board to the menu.

It quickly became one of our most popular items with guests repeatedly asking where they could buy it in stores! I decided to try my hand at a farmer’s market booth in London Ontario and sold out of all 60 wedges on the first day!

Just this past week, we sent over 20,000 wedges to our distribution partners across North America. It’s truly humbling to reflect on where this journey began.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I would remind myself to celebrate wins more often, both big and small. As a rapidly scaling company, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, and I’ve been reminding myself to take moments to reflect on how far we’ve come.

What problem does your business solve?

One of my passions is making healthy, plant-based alternatives more widely available and uniting people through delicious and healthy food.

Nuts For Cheese was one of the first to market with a delicious, creamy, plant-based cheese alternative that mimics the taste and texture of a traditional dairy cheese.

Many aspects of our manufacturing process including the fermentation and aging processes mimic traditional cheese making, and we’ve done scientific studies that demonstrate similarities between the microbial profile of our cashew cheese and dairy.

For individuals with dietary allergies, restrictions and preferences, our products offer a truly indulgent yet healthy alternative.

The plant-based cheese market has evolved extensively, today offering an abundance of delicious and innovative alternatives–we believe consumer value options and that we are all helping to build a category together.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

I am continuously inspired by our loyal and growing consumer base, their engagement with our brands, and seeing creative uses for our products.

The retail landscape has also changed extensively, today offering expanded plant-based sets and increasingly integrating plant-based options with traditional categories.

What is your magic sauce?

We get a lot of positive feedback that retailers and consumers love our unique, colorful packaging. Nuts For Cheese comes in a triangle shape box which allows for creative and eye-catching merchandising at shelf.

We offer innovative flavors not often seen in plant-based cheese, like our Brie and Blue or hand-painted rind varieties Smoky Gouda and Black Garlic, which are visually appealing and cater to the growing charcuterie board trend.

Taste is another factor – because our manufacturing and aging process is similar to that of dairy cheese, our products are creamy, decadent, and delicious.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We expect to invest extensively over the next five years into operational efficiency, innovation, and key hires to support the next phase of growth.

We still see abundant opportunity with retailers in Canada and the US where we will focus our efforts for the foreseeable future.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Launching into the US market during COVID certainly came with a few hurdles and a lot of unknowns.

A year and a half into our expansion, I am elated to see Nuts For Cheese products available in all 50 states, and with key retailers like Sprouts, Whole Foods, and National Co-op Grocers.

We’ve been overwhelmed by positive reception from both consumers and retailers, and although we’ve managed to accommodate increased demand, we haven’t lost our artisan touch, and never use preservatives, artificial flavours, or fillers.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

Find Nuts For Cheese near you with our store locator! Contact us with your name and mailing address for a $1 off coupon. Follow our journey on Instagram and explore our recipe page for creative, vegan inspiration!

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