A South Korean company that makes cheese out of almond milk hopes to ramp up its U.S. presence, starting with an expansion of its American headquarters in Tysons.
The expansion will enable the company to increase its footprint in the U.S. through both online sales and brick-and-mortar stores, according to the news release.
“It is gratifying to support the growth of an international company like Armored Fresh, whose success further strengthens Virginia’s standing as a prime global business destination,” Youngkin said. “The company is advancing food technology with its vegan cheese products, and we are proud that this industry innovation is happening right here in the Commonwealth.”
According to Youngkin, Virginia beat out California, Maryland, D.C. and New York to retain Armored Fresh.
Established in 2021, the company claims to be the first in the world to commercialize almond milk-based cheeses. Its cheese is sold in cubed, sliced, shredded and spreadable forms. All products are free of cholestrol, dairy, gluten and genetically modified organisms, according to its website.
The company made its U.S. debut in September, introducing its products to 100 grocery stores in New York City. An official global launch event was held on Oct. 24, and online sales are set to begin this month.
Per Youngkin’s office, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority to keep Armored Fresh’s headquarters. The Virginia Jobs Investment Program will provide consulting services and funding to support the planned new jobs.
In a statement, Armored Fresh CEO Andrew Yu noted that Fairfax County has “a rich history” in the dairy industry. The county was once home to more dairy farms than anywhere else in Virginia, a legacy kept alive at historic sites like Frying Pan Farm Park and Historic Blenheim.
“Armored Fresh is very excited to bring great-tasting, zero-dairy cheese that everyone can enjoy,” Yu said. “…Northern Virginia and Fairfax County has a rich history in dairy and is advancing in tech innovation. We’re glad to make Fairfax County our home and be part of the vibrant business and innovation community.”
State and local officials alike praised the news:
“As a trailblazer in vegan food production, Armored Fresh will grow its U.S. market presence with this expansion in Fairfax County,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “Virginia’s food and beverage processing industry is one of the Commonwealth’s fastest growing sectors, and we thank Armored Fresh for its investment and job creation as part of that roster.”
“I am thrilled to see an innovator like Armored Fresh expand its Fairfax County headquarters, creating jobs and growing its business capacity,” said Jeffrey C. McKay, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “Their environmentally sustainable approach to healthy food is an example of the type of forward-thinking companies that make their home here, and I especially appreciate the expansion of our economic ties with South Korea.”
“I am pleased to hear that Armored Fresh, the U.S. brand of a leading South Korean food tech company, will expand its headquarters in Fairfax County,” said Senator Janet Howell. “The vegan food business has been growing rapidly in the US and this will be a welcome expansion to that market. I commend the Virginia team that secured Fairfax County as the location for this opportunity.”
“I am excited to hear that Armored Fresh, the first almond milk-based vegan cheese brand, is expanding its headquarters in McLean with a $125,000 investment that will bring new jobs to Fairfax County,” said Delegate Holly Seibold. “Armored Fresh is on the forefront of innovation, creating a healthy, environmentally friendly alternative to dairy cheese. I am proud to support innovative, job-creating local businesses like Armored Fresh and I’m looking forward to ordering their products online soon.”