Jade Herrmann expands her Yoggu! line of coconut yogurts
Yogurt was one of the things that Yoggu! owner Jade Herrmann gave up when she turned vegan. She was unimpressed by the number of fillers like Guar Gum and Xantham that vegan yogurts packed into their packages, so she started making her own. “I dabbled in making my own yogurt because the Minimalist Baker at the time was all over my Instagram, but it turned out terrible and smelt like eggs.”
She figured out the secret to making edible coconut yogurt was ditching the canned coconut milk and going straight to the source. “I went to an Asian grocery store and bought whole young Thai coconuts and I would hack them open with a machete,” said Herrmann. “For 3 months I was heading to the same grocery store and buying like 20 coconuts.”
Two years later Herrmann has definitely moved on from her machete days, in fact, she’s poised for expansion as Yoggu hits Whole Foods shelves across the province.
Herrmann became a vegetarian when she was 13 years-old for ethical reasons. She told her mom that she needed different groceries and although her mom obliged, she was responsible for her own meals from then onwards.
“I was kind of on my own and even my friends thought I was kind of whacky,” said Herrmann
Whacky or not, Herrmann’s decision influenced her family to eat a few vegetarian meals per week, which helped ignite her passion for animal advocacy.
“My reason for becoming vegetarian and vegan first and foremost is for the animals, and I’m really happy that my product is contributing to animal welfare,” said Herrmann. “I’d like to get more into activism, but right now my business is kind of that medium for me and it’s opened me up to this amazing vegan community in Vancouver.”
Her product is dairy-free and vegan, but she’s found that that it’s not only vegans who are looking for an alternative yogurt. In fact, a large customer base is those who are lactose intolerant.
“I think more people do not agree well with dairy and are becoming aware of the gut-brain connection and just how powerful probiotics can be,” said Herrmann.
Yoggu is packed with probiotics and Herrmann’s estimates that her vegan coconut yogurt, which is made solely with has 100 billion probiotics per jar. Probiotics, for those who don’t know, are the good bacteria in your gut that help keeps the balance of microflora in your intestines. Essentially, they help your digestive system run smoothly.
There recently have been many studies suggesting that when the digestive system is thrown off, people are more prone to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Since probiotics have become a hot topic, more fermented foods, like Yoggu!, have made their way onto grocery shelves.
This is good for Herrmann who is currently moving her operations from a commissary kitchen to a larger shop to keep up with orders. The move is a sign of success, but she laments the loss of the community she’s built while working at her current commissary kitchen.
“The dream about entrepreneurship is that it’s all lunch meetings, but the fact is that being a sole proprietor means I spend a lot of time alone, which can be super isolating,” said Herrmann. “If I’m having a hard time I can go up to anyone here and they have experienced it.”
Hermann is often approached by people wanting advice on starting their own food business and she tries to be as real as possible about being real about her journey. “I tell them to get ready to sacrifice a bunch of things.”
Making sacrifices has its rewards and Herrmann has been able to quit her part-time job to focus solely on Yoggu! She plans to expand the line, but in the meantime, she’s working with a food scientist to find a way to increase the shelf-life while cutting down costs (a 500 mL jar currently goes for $18.99).
The most important thing to Herrmann moving forward is maintaining the integrity of her product. Since only uses 4 ingredients in her natural flavoured yogurt – organic coconut meat, coconut water, coconut cream and vegan probiotics – and she wants to keep it that way.
“Ultimately, I just want to keep going.”
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