Culcherd enters Pusateri’s with new products and packaging

The plant-based dairy alternative touts eco-friendly packaging and probiotic cultures.

inb-turmCulcherd is changing the culture surrounding, well, culture, touting the probiotic content of its vegan cheese and rebooting its packaging to be seen as eco-friendly.

The Toronto plant-based dairy alternative producer just announced new cheese and butter alternative flavour offerings, boosting its product line to 10. It also launched new packaging, removing all the plastic content in order to be certified vegan and organic, and has entered Toronto fine food grocery banner, Pusateri’s.

CEO and co-founder Tim Donnelly, tells strategy that the brand tweaked its recipe by adding probiotic culture in keeping with the company’s health-first ethos and popular consumer trends. According to recent Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Metabolic health products and trends, compound annual growth rate for probiotics continues to move higher in North America (nearly 4% from 2013 to 2017) and it’s showing its highest growth rate in Asian Pacific markets.

“Our cheeses are now cultured with a probiotic, and [so] we can make a health claim that it’s good for your gut and digestive system,” he says. “Good for your gut” is now part of the messaging on hexagonal packaging of Culcherd’s It’s Not Cheese products.

Culcherd - shelf talker (1)“It’s about wanting to have extremely healthy products offerings… That’s why we are very focused on being rich in probiotics, because that can also help your immune system,” Donnelly says, adding that consumers are becoming more aware of ingredients like turmeric, and their anti-inflammatory properties. The brand also launched Everything Bagel Cheese, as well as Turmeric Black Pepper Butter (above) and Cinnamon Butter.

In terms or branding, Culcherd defines itself by what it’s not: “Originally it was called ‘Tree nut cheese and butterless butter,’ but with this new redesign we called it ‘It’s not Butter’ and ‘It’s not Cheese,’” Donnelly says. “We don’t want to mislead anyone, we want people to know it’s not a dairy butter or a dairy cheese, but we are a dairy alternative company, and we want people to associate it with that.”

He says the choice was partly informed by meeting with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which at the time had stricter regulations surrounding product labelling.

When it comes to the new packaging, the brand wanted to be seen as authentic. Everything it makes is packaged using environmentally friendly, plastic-free, recyclable, and compostable materials.

The company also adopted contrasting colours and a textural aesthetic for its packaging, placing the products on a dark brown grain cutting board. “We’re a very artisanal product, and we wanted to tell that story too,” Donnelly says. He adds that a lot of the competition has very white and bright packaging. “We have different colours across every one of our flavours,” he says.

Culcherd products are in 40 stores thus far, mostly health and speciality retailers, including The Sweet Potato, the Big Carrot, and recently, Pusateri’s Fine Foods.

He says the brand will be sampling in stores through product demos in the coming weeks.

“We like to do demos a bit differently rather than just sampling. We try and make our demos experiential,” Donnelly says. “We will be cooking either popcorn and using our butter, or cooking grilled cheese, using butter and our cheese. Sometimes it’s sweet, and sometimes it’s savoury.”