Schinner likely to focus on The Vegan Good Life with Miyoko
SONOMA, California––Eleven months after the venture capitalists controlling the Miyoko’s Creamery board of directors in June 2022 greased the skids for founder Miyoko Schinner, three months after the board on February 16, 2023 publicly sacked and sued her, prompting her March 16, 2023 countersuit, the whole stinky, sticky mess concluded on May 18, 2023 with a cheesy jointly distributed media release in which the parties buttered each other up before separating like oil from water.
Crackers though it sounds, the media release alleged that “Miyoko’s Creamery and Miyoko Schinner are pleased that they have resolved all legal disputes between them and that they have withdrawn all legal claims made against each other.”
No actual chorus of “Kum ba Yah”
“Miyoko’s Creamery acknowledges the tremendous creativity, hard work, and integrity of its founder, Miyoko Schinner,” the release said, calling Schinner “a true pioneer in vegan creamery products,” stipulating that the Miyoko’s Creamery board “appreciates her many contributions to the company over the years.
In the next turn of the cheese wheel, the release continued, “Miyoko Schinner appreciates the dedicated team of people at Miyoko’s Creamery and their commitment to continuing her legacy through sustained and continued excellence in manufacturing, developing and selling vegan creamery products. Miyoko and the company wish each other well as they go their separate ways.”
The release was not accompanied by a photo or video clip of Schinner with the board members and executives who orchestrated her ouster, holding hands and singing “Kum ba Yah.”
Will Miyoko go into another vegan food business?
Neither did the release include any financial disclosures or mention of any specific business arrangements.
Vegan food industry scuttlebutt suggests Schinner, 65, may start a different sort of food manufacturing and/or retailing company, though there are no tangible indications of her moving in that direction.
“Over the past four decades,” Schinner’s countersuit against Miyoko’s Creamery mentioned, “Miyoko has written vegan cookbooks, taught cooking classes, opened and sold a vegan restaurant (called Now & Zen) and launched a vegan natural foods company and vegan brands, including a competitor to Tofurky.”
What’s in a name?
While Schinner might not be allowed to use her given name, Miyoko, on any food products, Miyoko’s Creamery investor and board member James Joaquin hinted to Elizabeth Crawford of Food Navigator USA in February 2023 that Miyoko’s Creamery is soon to introduce “new branding.”
That may mean that the company name “Miyoko’s” is soon to be de-emphasized or perhaps even dropped.
This in turn might clear the way for Miyoko to continue to use her name in connection with some sort of non-competitive venture, such as a vegan cooking show that she has already started.
Miyoko Schinner herself told ANIMALS 24-7, “I do own my name, Miyoko, as well as Miyoko Schinner. ‘Miyoko’s,’ however, is a registered trademark that can be confirmed on the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office website.”
Does vegan limburger smell the same?
“Earlier this year,” noted Carol Ortenberg of Nosh.com, “Schinner released The Vegan Good Life with Miyoko, a cooking series on YouTube where she has over 20,000 subscribers.
“On her LinkedIn post Schinner wrote ‘I am moving on. So important to close the door behind you so that new ones can open,’ Ortenberg continued.
“She added on Instagram,” Ortenberg said, “that her future would include ‘friends, community and activism,’” all of which are incorporated into The Vegan Good Life with Miyoko.
“In tandem with the announcement,” Ortenberg added, “Plant-Based Foods Association founder Michele Simon shared on LinkedIn that she no longer is a member of the vegan creamery’s board of directors. During the past three months Simon has been an outspoken advocate for Schinner.
“Simon’s LinkedIn entry for the role now includes [the words] ‘I was asked to join the board to support the company’s founder, Miyoko Schinner… In the 3 [plus] months I was on the board, it became painfully clear there would be no positive resolution and I was forced to step down,’” Ortenberg finished.
Settlement inevitable in case unlikely to help either side
Offered AgFunderNews global food technology editor Elaine Watson, “Dale Giali, a partner at the law firm King & Spalding (which did not represent either party), said he was not surprised the parties had decided to bury the hatchet, given that there were no upsides to prolonged litigation for either party in a case that was never going to go to trial.”
Said Giali, “We likely will never know the material terms of the settlement, but it clearly is built on a framework of the parties going their separate ways.
“Significantly,” Giali assessed, “it is also quite clear that the parties have joined hands one last time to communicate to customers and consumers that the Miyoko’s Creamery business remains fully intact with Miyoko Schinner’s best wishes.”
Explained Giali, “Civil litigation that does not end by court order, such as on motion to dismiss or summary judgment, settles at a rate in the high ninety percent range––so this settlement also is no surprise.”
Dot Foods deal
The settlement announcement immediately preceded a second May 18, 2023 media release from Miyoko’s Creamery in which the company “announced an exciting new partnership with North America’s largest food industry redistributor, Dot Foods,” which will extend access to Miyoko’s Creamery products “to over 5,000 foodservice distributors around the country.
“Dot Foods, Inc. carries 125,000 products from 1,020 food industry manufacturers,” the media release mentioned.
“Through Dot Transportation, Inc., an affiliate of Dot Foods, the company distributes foodservice, convenience, retail, and vending products to distributors in all 50 states and more than 55 countries.”
Jamaka Petzak says
Sounds promising. Sharing with gratitude and hope for the future.
Dr. Will Tuttle says
Thanks for this great reporting, and the refreshing humor!