After 17 years of plant-based ice cream, why HumanCo renamed Coconut Bliss and added dairy

While HumanCo’s Coconut Bliss is well known for its premium plant-based ice cream and frozen treats, HumanCo founder and CEO Jason Karp knows it’s not for everyone.

Research on the ice cream segment revealed to him how few people regularly buy and consume vegetable ice cream. More than 97% of all ice cream sold in the United States is dairy-based, he said.

And while the 17-year-old Coconut Bliss brand offers a range of clean label and eco-friendly ice creams, Karp said not everyone is going to eat it. However, he said, many of these dairy ice cream consumers are also interested in sustainably sourced and own-brand options – but few dairy ice cream brands meet these standards.

With all of this in mind, HumanCo is renaming Coconut Bliss to Cosmic Bliss. The line’s old plant-based flavors will still be available, but the company is adding a new line of premium dairy ice creams made with 100% organic and sustainably sourced milk.

It’s an unconventional change at a time when many manufacturers are scrambling to produce better plant-based options, but Karp said it’s how HumanCo is trying to meet all consumers where they find themselves.

“We think it was a better strategy to try to provide a better solution for the 97% than to try to force everyone into a one-size-fits-all mindset,” Karp said. “That’s the why.”

Finding Good Dairy Happiness

HumanCo, which acquired Coconut Bliss in 2020, has been studying this change for about a year.

Karp said he noticed many dairy ice cream companies were releasing plant-based varieties using over-processed ingredients, which he called “synthetic.” And while consumers were trying out these new varieties, the sales numbers indicated they weren’t definitely switching to plants. Karp said what consumers seemed to want was higher quality dairy ice cream — ice cream with fewer processed ingredients from cows that were treated humanely and raised more sustainably.

So HumanCo set out to make a clean-label organic ice cream that used milk from 100% grass-fed cows. Karp said he had to do a lot of research to find suppliers who met the company’s needs and could produce at the scale needed. The ice cream also had to use all “real” ingredients: no sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners and nothing genetically modified. And soy and gluten free.

Karp said he believes Cosmic Bliss dairy is one of the few ice creams that is made from grass-fed dairy and is certified organic.

“The fun part of it all is that when you use 100% grass-fed whole dairy, it’s very creamy and it’s very delicious, actually,” Karp said. “So it wasn’t as difficult to do something amazing.”

Because the new dairy ice cream is super premium, the cost per 14-ounce pint is much higher than other ice cream brands, with a suggested retail price of $8.99 each. Karp said HumanCo had worked hard to create flavors that matched the caliber of dairy ice cream and had no plans to offer a list of offerings that matched the brand’s line of plant-based products. The dairy-based Cosmic Bliss is first launching in seven flavors: Twisted Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Blitz, Hazelnut Fudge Crunch, Strawberry Lemon Shortbread, Banana Caramel Flambé, Vanilla Bean Nirvana and Chocolate Euphoria.

Optional legend

Courtesy of HumanCo

Economics also played a role in the decision to rebrand and create a line of dairy ice cream, Karp said. But this was a much more general look at the ice cream segment and not specific to Coconut Bliss’ sales or profitability. More people want to buy dairy ice cream, so creating a dairy line means there will be a wider audience for the brand, Karp said.

When HumanCo took its majority stake in Coconut Bliss, former owner Lochmead Dairy retained a minority stake. Lochmead, a family-run dairy in Oregon that makes dairy ice cream as well as other dairy products, was invaluable in helping design the new line, Karp said. One of the leaders of the ice cream brand, a member of the Lochmead family “was a big supporter with us in creating this because it didn’t exist,” Karp said.

Treats for all

When rebranding, HumanCo chose to call the brand “Cosmic Bliss” for several reasons, Karp said.

Cosmic can’t just be used as an understatement — the taste and composition of the ice cream might be considered out of this world by consumers, Karp said. But, he noted, it can also be used as a descriptor of the ice cream company‘s current target market.

“We need to be a brand that includes everyone, not just those who only eat plants,” Karp said. “That’s why we chose ‘Cosmic Bliss’.”

And while all pints will be rebranded from “Coconut Bliss” — even plant-based staples that have been with the company for nearly two decades — Karp said he doesn’t think superfans of brand would be confused.. Karp said the company will not give up herbal products and will continue R&D to make product improvements.

There’s something more fundamental, Karp said, that connects Coconut Bliss’ heritage to the new Cosmic Bliss brand.

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Courtesy of HumanCo

“Consistent with the original Coconut Bliss and HumanCo’s bodyguards, this is a very clean ice cream that uses farm-sourced ingredients,” Karp said. “…We looked to nature and farms, and wanted to make healthy, sustainable practices more accessible to almost everyone.”

Karp said HumanCo will review other products in its portfolio in the same way. It will examine what the segment looks like, where there is growth and where there is a need for innovation. And if that means creating a dairy version of a previously dairy-free product in a way that pushes HumanCo’s values ​​of clean labels, quality products and sustainability, they will, Karp said.

He also hopes the move will give other ice cream makers who make plant-based treats he sees as overprocessed — and ultimately lacking — a reason to take a break from developing their products. After all, Karp said, the segment should give consumers what they want.

“I believe it’s important that there are options for all of these people because everyone wants to do better for the Earth,” Karp said. “Everyone wants to do their part. But not everyone wants to give up dairy.”

About Thomas B. Countryman

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