Brooklyn-based organic vegan mozzarella brand NUMU has made its official West Coast debut at the new Whole Foods Market in Burbank, Calif.
“WEST COASTERS: NUMU Vegan has debuted with launch partner Whole Foods Burbank! The brand-new location features vegan options of every pizza at no up-charge, and you can order a custom pie on vegan gluten-free crust,” the brand wrote in a Facebook announcement. The new Whole Foods Market location offers pizzas such as classic Margherita pie and white pie, among other varieties. All pizza options, including those that offer meat, can be made vegan upon request by substituting NUMU cheese for dairy cheese and leaving off the meat.
NUMU products are organic, kosher, GMO-free, and nut-free. The plant-based cheese, which is made from a combination of soybeans and coconut oil, looks, tastes, and melts like traditional mozzarella. The dairy-free product is ideal for use in New York Italian-style dishes like pizza, lasagna, and baked ziti due to its deliciously stretchy characteristics.
NUMU cheese is also available at select New York restaurants such as the vegan Screamers Pizzeria, acclaimed Neapolitan pizzeria Paulie Gee’s, Rizzo’s Fine Pizza LES. It is also sold at specialty shops like the soul-food focused Urban Vegan Kitchen and the palm oil-free vegan deli and grocery store Orchard Grocer, as well as several restaurants operated by vegan restaurateur Ravi DeRossi. Mark Iacono, master pizza maker at Lucali in Brooklyn, praised NUMU after using it to make the restaurant’s world-famous thin crust brick oven pizza.
While fans of NUMU were excited about its entry into Whole Foods Market, some asked why the brand is focusing on food service rather than retail distribution. NUMU co-founder Jill Carnegie replied that food service distribution provides customers with better access to the product. She also noted that for startup brands, moving into food service may often be more efficient than retail distribution. Another small vegan cheese brand, Good PLANeT foods, recently became available for food service distribution across the US.
Carnegie revealed that NUMU’s West Coast expansion is “only stage one” and that the brand will work towards moving into retail.