Michael Schwarz is the Founder of Treeline Cheese, a pioneer plant-based cheese brand. He left his career as an intellectual property lawyer after learning about the cruelties of animal agriculture and felt compelled to create cruelty-free alternatives to dairy cheese. Michael began experimenting by fermenting cashews in his home kitchen. When he was confident enough with his recipe, he started knocking on the doors of small independent retailers in New York City’s Hudson Valley, asking them to carry plant-based cheeses. Nine years later, Treeline retains its activist ethos on which it was founded and has grown to sell their products in 3,000 retailers across the country, including Amazon, Target, Whole Foods, Kroger, Wegmans, Ralphs, and many more. Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: What prompted Michael Schwarz to start Treeline Cheese and why he chose to use cashew nuts for his product line Michael explains how he started and scaled his business The strategies Michael used to educate retail buyers and customers about his products How Michael's business has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and his thoughts on future demand for Treeline’s products The evolution of in-person meetings with buyers Michael talks about building his team for Treeline, how he positions his company against competitors, and how he develops new flavors for his products The importance of innovation in the food industry Steve Cleere and Michael share their thoughts on genetically modified foods, the future of food production in the world, and the growth of the plant-based foods market Michael's advice to fellow entrepreneurs on building a food business Where to learn more and buy Treeline In this episode… Creating a new product in a new category within the food industry can be risky. As an entrepreneur, you don't know for certain how your target market will respond to your creation, for better or for worse. And according to Michael Schwarz, a good idea and good intentions are not enough to build a successful business. To make sure that your brand is innovative in the market and desired by customers, you need to invest in research and development. This will help you assess the market and determine whether there is demand for your idea before you dive in headfirst. Michael says you’ll also need to educate potential retail buyers and customers about the benefits of your products to increase your sales and grow your brand. Ready to get started? In this episode of the NexxtLevel Brands Podcast, Steve Cleere is joined by Michael Schwarz, the Founder of Treeline Cheese, to talk about the need for entrepreneurs to research their innovative products. They also talk about the growth of the plant-based foods market, the best way to educate buyers and customers about new products, and how Michael develops new flavors for his cheese line. Subscribe and Listen on: iTunes Spotify Stitcher Google Play Deezer iHeartRadio TuneIn Amazon Music Resources Mentioned in this episode Kitchen2Shelf NexxtLevel Marketing Treeline Cheese Expo East Expo West Justin Lambeth on LinkedIn Cool News: The NexxtLevel Brands Podcast has just been named as one of the Top 15 CPG-Themed Podcasts on the web!!! We're at Lucky #7 and you can get more information about Feedspot and how you can watch more of your favorite shows here: Top CPG Podcasts – Thanks to Feedspot, Rise25 and our Production Team! Sponsor for this episode... Our podcast today is sponsored by Kitchen2Shelf, the educational arm of NexxtLevel Brands. Kitchen-2-Shelf provides online and in-person courses and workshops for CPG entrepreneurs at any stage of growth. Whether you're an early-stage startup, a local growing business, or if you want to just expand your distribution to a national level, Kitchen-2-Shelf can help you learn what you need to know to grow. Visit their website to get access to some free tools that can help you understand where your business stands. Contact them today to find out how they can help you grow your brand and expand your business to reach its full potential.