Armored Fresh is the US subsidiary of Yangyoo, the Korean food technology company behind Korea’s first vegan cheese and other food alternatives aimed at protecting the environment. Last January, Armored Fresh was the first Korean company to make a presentation at the convention’s first “Food Technology” section at CES and is preparing to enter global markets.
I visited the Armored Fresh booth at CES and tried a few of their products: the vegan cheese cube and the vegan cheese cream dduk. The plain cube cheese had a very mild cheesy flavor and crumbly texture which I was not expecting. I didn’t really like it because I expected it to be either soft and spreadable or hard and firm when I bit down, and it was neither.
Although I was not a big fan of the vegan cube cheese, I really enjoyed the vegan cheese cream dduk. Dduk is a type of Korean rice cake made from steamed rice flour that looks like mochi, and Armored Fresh contains cream made from coconut oil. While there are vegan mochi ice cream products on the market in the United States, few product lines are entirely dedicated to vegan mochi, and none are as traditional as Armored Fresh.
The dduk was perfectly soft and had a slight chewiness to it, and the texture of the cream inside tasted similar to ice cream since the dduk is meant to be kept frozen and eaten slightly thawed. I tried three flavors: corn, rice milk and injeolmi. The corn flavor was very subtle and fresh which I liked as I don’t like the artificial taste of some corn flavored products. The rice milk was my favorite because it had a mild sweetness and reminded me of the mochi I grew up eating. The injeolmi had a unique nutty and fragrant flavor. For those who have never tried injeolmi, it is a Korean sweet rice cake made with glutinous rice flour and topped with powdered dried beans and often roasted soybeans. The Armored Fresh injeolmi flavor reminded me of soybeans or toasted sesame. The cream inside each flavor I tried had a smooth consistency and texture that didn’t make it obvious that it wasn’t made from real milk.
Armored Fresh will enter the US market with several different cheese products, including vegan cream cheese in 8 different flavors, vegan cheese cubes (also available in 8 different flavors), sliced cheese, and shredded cheese. Armored Fresh also plans to use this vegan cheese on its other brands, Young Man dduk and Spaceman Pizza. Spaceman Pizza will feature flavors such as margherita, meatballs and kimchi with vegan meatballs made from soy-based meat. The company also develops yoghurts and ice creams made from almond milk.
Armored Fresh will be attending various food-focused trade shows in the coming months in Anaheim, Orlando, New York and Chicago and plans to work with national and local distributors to make their products available nationwide.
As alternative dairy products gain traction in global markets, it will be interesting to see how ethnic products embrace innovation without compromising the traditions and cultural significance of their foods. Armored Fresh’s dduk balances both forces well, creating a product that honors tradition while adapting to changing times to be more sustainable. Above all, it’s delicious.