The growing production of organic products in the dairy industry has increasingly come to affirm the desire for demographics across the United States to eat and live better! Slowly and surely a number of organic companies are catering to the need if raw and natural products. Of course, the competition from larger, non-organic corporations continue to perform their role. Nevertheless, consumption of organic products is growing, and growing rather, well!
For the owner of one organic yogurt company, the challenges of production are definitely worth the generational legacy of producing quality, almond yogurt products, for the consumption of particular demographics. Simultaneously, producing organic and health-related products does not equate to a stress-free environment. In fact, it may mean that the stresses increase due to the authenticity and natural quality of a product.
The history of AYO Almondmilk Yogurt began as a rich legacy, spanning four generations of farmers and agricultiralists, who specialized in the art of growing organic almonds; while processing them into yogurt products. The very foundation of the company began in 1913, which then led into the actual production of naturally grown almonds. Acquiring capital in the purchase of an orchard was a challenge. AYO Almondmilk Yogurt began as a “small, start-up, family farm;” requiring 12-15 years to substantiate the process. It was approximately three years ago, where the success of the almond packed yogurt product began to ascend. AYO Almondmilk Yogurt began to find its home in natural food stores across the country. Such included places as Los Angeles, Chicago, Texas, Northern California, and natural food stores in the Northeastern part of the United States. A significant part of its success, specifically correlated to the natural, almond flavor.
“You have to believe in your product. Take advice from people. If we believe in it, we just have to spread the word and find success with it.”
One of the benefits of almond yogurts correlates to the fact that almonds are one of the most nutritious sources of protein. In addition, it contains one of the lowest quantities of sugar. Yet, again, when it comes to acting, producing, and cultivating nature’s authenticity, the work becomes even more intense. Quality and authentic products require top notch work. However, despite its contribution to the wellness movement, almonds are considered to be one of the most difficult, organic products to produce. Specifically, for AYO Almondmilk Yogurt is how they were limited to the pumping of wells, for circulation of water to the almonds. There were the challenges of timely production, acquiring the right ingredients for the yogurt, managing the production through winter weathers, and the proper use of probiotic material yogurt production. And then, there was another challenge.
During the height of the COVID-19 epidemic, a significant delay of yogurt production took place. During the height of the pandemic, more households focused on getting access to staple products, such as milk and flour. There were also challenges with almond, yogurt products being delivered to the households.
Of course, there are other interesting challenges, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lauren Clark: Would you say that there is a transition into organic almonds?
Matt Billings: Almonds are slow in transitioning into organic forms. Less than 1% are uses nationwide. Almonds are the most challenging products to produce, organically.
With the challenges of producing organic almonds, one can only imagine the level of stress, arising. Evidently, in order to have a competitive edge in the industry, there are holistic activities, which must take place within one’s personal life. So,how does the founder of AYO Almondmilk Yogurt maintain mental and emotional wellness between success and his personal journey?
“I spend a lot of time with family; fishing, spending time in nature, and camping.”Matt Billings
Moving forward into the future, there are high ambitions for such a challenging (and seemingly impossible) industry. According to Mr. Billings, one of such pertains to ensuring that AYO Almondmilk Yogurt is found in national and international stores. It also includes a foresight in ensuring there are a variety of flavors. Such would include the following: vanilla, blueberry, strawberry, peach, and others. There could possibly include organic cheese and ice cream production, in the near future. Furthermore, such also includes more attentive focus to brand identity, as it corresponds to the improvement in taste-in addition to expanding the line of products.
In any position, objective, goal, or future endeavor, there is always the need for change. Improvement is key. Those who fail to improve soon learn, that they remain in a stagnant position. Rising to the next level (if not, many levels), requires stepping from afar, in order to assess what is working; and what is not.
Lauren Clark: If there was something you could change in the running of your business, what would it be?”
Matt Billings: We would have more singularly focused on getting more consumer product trial earlier in the process. We know from our consumer studies that people love our product over the competition; and this, in turn, would have driven more repeat business, earlier in the introduction.”
Moving on, all it takes is a recognition of one’s personal and professional shortcomings, within a position of leadership. Then again, all it requires is an honest reflection, re-grouping, and moving forward with a more advanced initiative.
Having a discussion with the founder of AYO Almondmilk Yogurt, MATT BILLINGS, proved one thing. It’s cheaper to go the artificial way. Extracting and cultivating holistic products from the Earth, while maintaining its authenticity, is expensive! It’s expensive monetarily and it’s expensive with time. Oh, how much easier it would be if we could go the shorter route. Then again, it would mean that one misses out on an entire process. One would miss an entire base of, knowledge.
For Matt Billings, the very foundation of AYO Almondmilk Yogurt spans four generations of storytelling. It not simply an idea of developing a company, in order to join the rise of the organic industry. It is the very story of his forefathers, foremothers, and their bond with the Earth, through seeds of the, almond. These seeds symbolize the very structure, legacy, and wellness of a family. They are Earthly people; having mastered the growth and cultivation of almond seeds. Ah! Another symbolic metaphor. For it will ensure that future seedlings 🌱 of the Billings Family cherishes that same centeredness with the Earth; all the while sharing it with those, who yearn to sample its taste. Yes, the labor is tedious, tricky, and has its numerous challenges. The methodologies used by AYO Almondmilk Yogurt requires an entire process: from the farm to storefront. The family, and company, are keepers of time, as they work in harmony with the seasons. Interesting. A respect for nature, and her natural timing is also part of, the process.Yet, it is a mandatory journey in producing the stories, for the seedlings born 🌱, and those yet to come.
“Life daily brings you challenges. Take it one day at a time. Realize some things are out of your control. Persistence.”Matt Billings
Note: All images were provided by AYO Almondmilk Yogurt. Edits were done by Lauren Clark.