Australia’s First Vegan Halloumi Startup Hello Friend Launches Crowdfunder To Expand

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Hello Friend Foods, the first food tech in Australia to offer vegan halloumi cheese, has launched a crowdfunding campaign. The dairy-free cheese startup says that the money raised will be used to scale-up its distribution, grow its new direct-to-consumer online store and potentially enter international markets to meet the rising plant-based demand. 

Founded by Bree Gaudette and Matthew Ronalds in 2018, Hello Friend is a Melbourne-based plant-based startup creating vegan handmade premium cheeses made using soy milk, tapioca syrup, barley, coconut oil and tapioca starch as its main ingredients. The brand’s range, which include plant-based halloumi, mozzarella and cheese sauce are all free from gluten, palm oil, nuts and the main allergens.

Now, having launched its products locally to great fanfare, the company is setting its sights on expanding to national distribution and entering international markets. 

“We tested the waters in the Melbourne vegan community by offering them our Fresh Mozzarella. The response was overwhelming, and people were trying to place orders before we’d even launched, so we went back into the kitchen and came out with Australia’s first vegan Haloumi,” said co-founder Gaudette.

We’re now poised to scale to national distribution and also expand our new direct-to-consumer (online) store. We’re also working exciting opportunities for national supermarket coverage and fielding first overseas interest.

Hello Friend Foods

Currently, the brand supplies retailers, caterers and cafés and also sells directly to consumers through its new e-commerce shop, which enabled the company to continue offering customers its plant-based products throughout the coronavirus crisis. 

In order to embark on its expansion, the company has launched an equity crowdfunding campaign through Birchal, a platform licensed under Australia’s crowd-sourced regime. 

We’re now poised to scale to national distribution and also expand our new direct-to-consumer (online) store. We’re also working exciting opportunities for national supermarket coverage and fielding first overseas interest,” explained the Hello Friend team on the campaign page. “This funding will be to help grow the team to take advantage of the revenue opportunities in front of us.”

The opportunity for growth is huge, given the continually rising demand for plant-based food, especially since the coronavirus pandemic hit, which has awakened consumers to the food safety, workplace dangers, sustainability issues and vulnerability of the animal-based supply chain. 

Prior to the pandemic, consumers had already been gradually shifting away from traditional dairy products, primarily due to environmental reasons. According to nonprofit GRAIN, the ten biggest dairy corporations in the world are responsible for generating enough carbon emissions to match half of France’s total carbon output. 

While conventional dairy sales took a tumble, prompting the two largest dairy firms in the U.S. to file for bankruptcy last year, sales of plant-based products have skyrocketed. Plant-based cheese sales, in particular, has grown 18% in 2019 to reach US$190 million in the U.S. alone, and recent reports suggest that the global sector will hit US$7 billion by 2030. 


All images courtesy of Hello Friend.


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