“Supporting California’s Thriving Plant Based Foods Industry Through Policy”

Sacramento – The Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), the nation’s first and only trade association representing the rapidly growing plant-based foods industry, along with legislative co-hosts, California Assemblymembers Ash Kalra, Adrin Nazarian, and Sharon Quirk-Silva hosted a successful virtual event yesterday focused on the growth of the plant-based foods industry in PBFA’s home-state of California.

 The goal of the forum was to raise awareness around the plant-based foods industry among policy leaders. Topics covered at the Zoom-based Supporting California’s Thriving Plant Based Foods Industry Through Policy legislative briefing included the values driving the industry, growth plans, and ways that state policy can work to bolster plant-based food innovation.

“California is the economic engine of the plant-based food industry,” said PBFA Founder Michele Simon. “So while California is known for other industries such as tech and entertainment, it’s time for California to also be recognized as the hub of the fast-growing plant-based foods sector, especially given that California is known as the land of innovation.”

The forum was attended by more than six dozen California state legislative leaders and staff. Eight leaders of PBFA members based in California shared their company’s origin stories, why they are headquartered in California, their respective visions for the future, and their use of California produce and local sourcing. Noted Simon, “Many of the core values that California represents are embodied in these brands, such as concerns for public health, climate change, animal welfare, and most importantly, giving back to the community.”

PBFA members that participated in the event spoke passionately about their missions:

  • Miyoko Schinner, CEO, Miyoko’s Creamery (Petaluma), noted that the company has grown 100% year-over-year, and is hiring many new workers, even during the pandemic. The company has filed a First Amendment lawsuit over the state not allowing Miyoko’s to use the word “butter”.
  • Martin Kruger, COO, Follow Your Heart (Canoga Park), spoke about how the company started in California and has focused its expansion in the state for ingredient growth and manufacturing.
  • GW Chew, CEO, Something Better Foods (Oakland), announced that his start-up company recently passed more than $1M in sales. Chef Chew also shared start-up challenges that policymakers might help with, especially for businesses owned by people of color.
  • Tyler Jameson, VP of Government Relations, Impossible Foods (Redwood City), spoke about how the company is doubling its R&D staff in California.
  • Stuart Kronauge, CMO, Beyond Meat (El Segundo), noted that the company has experienced nearly 600% growth in California-based employees over the last five years.
  • Kai Nortey, CEO & Co-Founder, kubé (Oakland), spoke to her company’s focus on social justice and upcoming expansion with the opening of their Oakland storefront location in conjunction with a new manufacturing facility. Her plan is to hire recently incarcerated inmates through a local program and asked policymakers to support such intiatives.
  • AJ Bernstein, VP of Marketing, Bolthouse Farms (Bakersfield), articulated the company’s natural food movement ethos and the massive California growth and innovation plans. The company already sources tons of fresh produce in California, such as carrots.
  • Dave Ritterbush, CEO, Califia Farms (Bakersfield and Los Angeles), celebrated the “bounty of California” with both manufacturing and headquarters in the state, and is currently working to expand their local employment. The very name Califia stems from California.

We all had a robust conversation about plant-based policy initiatives, including a state bill last session authored by Assemblymembers Nazarian and Kalra to increase funds to expand plant-based entrees and plant-based milk options in California schools. Assemblymember Quirk-Silva spoke in support of the need for increased public school funding to increase healthier, plant-based options for students. She is committed to working on sustainability and supporting plant-based foods as an effective way to combat climate change.

We also discussed PBFA’s successful defensive measures to fight unjust and unnecessary attempts by dairy and meat lobbyists to restrict the First Amendment rights of the plant-based food industry to fairly and accurately label their foods. Assemblymember Kalra spoke about the need for truth-in-advertising and applauded PBFA for fighting for the plant-based food industries’ labeling rights.

You can learn more about PBFA’s policy work on our website here.

The event was organized by Sacramento-based Fearless Advocacy.

About the Plant Based Foods Association: The Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), with over 175 member companies, is the nation’s first and only trade association representing the rapidly growing plant-based foods industry. Our mission to build a strong foundation for the plant-based foods industry to succeed and thrive. Learn more at www.plantbasedfoods.org.