Episode #7 – Alice Shopland: A Cheesy Story of New Zealand’s Oldest Vegan Business
“4 or 5 years ago, when we told people we were doing dairy-free products, treasonous is actually a good way to describe the reaction. People were quite shocked.”
There’s this thing about New Zealand that most people who only visit it as tourists don’t realize: yeah, it’s very green, but a lot of that are pastures. And while sheep are more often used on postcards, cows still outnumber the human population at more than 2 to 1 and dairy products make up nearly one third of the exports (and about 3% of the nation’s GDP). So speaking or acting against the dairy industry is indeed akin to treason – which is why I really wanted to talk to Alice, whose company, Angel Food, is New Zealand’s first dairy-free cheese producer, as well as the oldest vegan company, having just celebrated their 10th anniversary.
The other reason I wanted Alice on the show is because they are about to launch a new range of products (including feta, cheddar and salami) and she was kind enough to send some samples over, so I may be slightly biased in my judgement (but this is not a paid promotion or anything – if she hadn’t offered, I would have gladly gone and used this episode as an excuse to go out and buy some Angel Food cheese). At the time of the recording, these products were available in pre-sale as part of Angel Food’s crowdfunding campaign (check the show notes!) to get them to market faster. Crowdfunding is a strategy that has worked very well for them in the past, so I was curious to hear what Alice had to say about the experience, especially since I knew there were some stumbling blocks this time…
Regardless of that, Angel Food is poised to go big, in my opinion. First of all, the vegan cheese market nowhere near saturation, considering that more and more customers of dairy alternatives aren’t even vegan, just health. or environmentally-conscious (or lactose intolerant, of course). And with China currently being the main buyer of New Zealand’s dairy, the trade channels are established for Angel Food to start reaching into the Asian market. Which is a deal under wraps, but currently still classified info – so that’s one thing I couldn’t get Alice to share. But I’m certainly glad she made the not-so-obvious switch from freelance writer to vegan cheese maker, because their cheese is definitely worth exporting and supporting, so if you find yourself down here, treat yourself to some Angel Food products.
The main website with all products, retail locations and an extensive blog site, where I suspect Alice still puts her writing skills to good use – Angel Food
Current PledgeMe crowdfunding campaing – Four new vegan cheeses!
Past (equity) crowdfunding campaign with plenty of information on Angel Food products and plans – PledgeMe/Angel Food
The nationwide pizza chain where you can have AF Mozzarella on anything (WARNING – while they do cater well to vegans, they are in no way a vegan brand) – Hell Pizza
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