Former dairy duo switch to launch plant-based company

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

Yoi means good in Japanese. Pic: Yoi
Yoi means good in Japanese. Pic: Yoi

Related tags: plant-based, Dairy alternatives

Yoi, a brand-new plant-based food and beverage company, has launched in Bay Area independent grocers in California this month with its Probiotic Nut and Seedmilks.

Yoi, which means good in Japanese, crafts its tart beverages in small batches from organic ingredients including almonds, coconut, and pumpkin seeds.

"We're thrilled with the beverage that we created,"​ said Ellie Wells, co-founder.

"It was a non-negotiable for us that Yoi be organic and with a great nutritional profile — a high count of probiotics plus prebiotic fiber and plant protein, without added sugar — while also tasting good. So we went through quite a few different ideas and iterations before we landed on the products we wanted to bring to market."

Wells and co-founder Tosh Nakagawa were inspired by the ancient art of Japanese fermentation and the concept of ikigai.

"Ikigai means 'your reason for being,' or what gets you out of bed in the morning,"​ said Nakagawa.

"We want to make products that help people feel good so that they can do good. That is our ikigai."

After working together in the dairy industry for more than a decade, Wells and Nakagawa and their families moved to a primarily plant-based diet. They said they noticed people in their communities were doing the same: from cutting back on meat and dairy and incorporating more plants into their diets to going full-fledged vegan.

"We saw the opportunity and thought, 'How can we apply our knowledge and experience in cultured dairy foods to create healthy and tasty plant-based cultured foods?'"​ Nakagawa said.

The 10oz bottle is offered in Strawberry, Vanilla Bean, Pineapple, and Cacao Nib flavors for $4.99. Yoi is also available in a large 23oz bottle in Plain Unsweetened and Vanilla Bean for $8.99.

Yoi Probiotic Nut & Seedmilks are available in local independent retailers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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