Together, we can make a better future a reality: something you can see on a shelf, hold in your hands, and taste with a spoon. That’s why, in partnership with global and local brands alike, we’re making delicious, animal-free products without compromise. Our partner, Strive, has over 40 years of experience creating planet-positive food, centering their business around developing a more sustainable food system. Together we’ve created a line of sustainable, animal-free, and lactose-free milk that’s better for people, for animals and for the planet. This includes FREEMILK, an animal-free alternative to whole milk and hybrid milks, bringing together the best of plant-based options with the nutritional and functional value of our protein. We sat down with Austen Cohlmia, one of the founders of Strive to learn more about their vision, journey, launch of FREEMILK coming soon and more…
Tell us about Strive.
Strive is a vision into the future of dairy and climate change with delicious and sustainable products. We have pivoted directly into the future with our first full line of animal-free milk products enriched with animal-free whey. We see the growing need for consumers to have multiple options when it comes to dairy and dairy alternatives and we are addressing that need head-on with innovative, sustainable, and nutritious products.
What is Strive’s ethos?
Work every day to do our part to reduce the effects of climate change with the development of the animal-free sustainable dairy category. Always develop and produce great tasting, nutritious products that help fight climate change and also help the growing concerns of obesity and food insecurity. And always take care of our customers.
Which of Strive’s sustainable products is your favorite, and why?
That is close to picking a favorite child because we love all of our products. But we are particularly excited about Strive FREEMILK. It checks all the boxes when it comes to delivering on the promise of great taste and nutrition with enriched protein, no lactose and low sugar. The Strive brand brings our vision to market and the FREEMILK trademark makes it the flagship product of the animal-free dairy category.
How did your journey in the food industry begin?
43 years ago our concern about reducing the carbon footprint of the conventional dairy industry, we founded one of the first companies to disrupt the industry through aseptic technology. With the production of shelf stable, ready to use products, we developed and launched many innovations in aseptic processing and packaging. We created high quality, great tasting food and beverage products for both the food service and consumer markets. We have come full circle now as we begin to produce Strive animal-free dairy products in the Tetra Edge aseptic shelf stable packaging.
What is your proudest milestone?
Our decision to turn directly and head-on into the future with the development of Strive. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past 12-months in product and brand development. We are now ready to execute with the launch of Strive. The past year has been a startup whirlwind as we begin production and fight through issues any disruptive start-up has to deal with. In life, milestones can also be bumps in the road but we always keep our eyes focused on the horizon and drive toward our long-term goals to build our Strive brand and the new animal-free dairy category.
Who or what do you look to for inspiration?
Our children and grandchildren. Seeing where our planet is headed, not just 5-10 years in the future but 50 to 100 years, inspires us to want to build a brand that leaves this planet in a better place for them and their children and grandchildren.
What is a flavor or product you’ve tried to make but didn’t work out? What did you learn from the testing process?
Believe me some of our earlier experiments were …let’s say “interesting”. We set the bar high early on and resisted the urge to cut corners or accept anything that wasn’t 100% the very best it could be. It’s made things harder, but we think it will pay off over the long run.
What is a flavor you wish you had in your product line?
There are a bunch of new flavors that we would like to see in our line. We have a line of Strive protein shakes and protein-infused hydration drinks in development. We also plan to listen closely to what consumers tell us and use insight to inform what’s next. Stay tuned.
If your brand had alter egos, what would they be?
It’s more like “who” would that be, and we’d say two people and the new generation of young people, Greta Thunberg along with the Gen Z version of Jane Goodall.
If you could give one of your products to anyone – past or present – to try, who would it be? And why?
Past: Louis Pasteur
Present: Jose Andres
I think that Louis Pasteur would not only appreciate how far his process has come but would be in awe of the innovation of creating something identical to dairy without a cow. Jose Andres has done so much with the world central kitchen and the way we look at food security globally with how our environment affects communities’ food sources. Jose would see that Strive could be a leader in treating so many of the humanitarian issues he addresses.
And finally, what is your vision of a kinder, greener future?
That with every individual doing their part to make this planet 1% better every day in lockstep. And we at Strive believe wholeheartedly that we are just one small part that can inspire everyone to do their job in ensuring that we can make this planet better for all for the long haul.
We’d love to hear your thoughts!
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