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Los Angeles-based vegan startup Grounded Foods has officially launched its 100% plant-based cheese range made from cauliflower and hemp to U.S. consumers. The first-of-its-kind products, which unlike other vegan alternatives do not contain nuts and are not based on a coconut oil fat component, will be available across retailers in the country, as well as on its direct-to-consumer website.
Grounded Foods has released their unique fermented vegan cheese range to consumers for the first time, launching in its domestic market in the U.S., the company announced on Monday (March 29). The products – Marinated Hemp Seed Goat Cheese, Hemp Seed Cream Cheese and Cheese-Free Cheese Sauce – will be retailing at US$5.99 and available via its direct-to-consumer website for US$30 per three-pack, and US$50 per six-pack.
The startup’s vegan cheeses are based on a proprietary blend of non-GMO cauliflower and hemp that are deemed too “imperfect” to be sold in the mainstream value chain, and unlike other alternatives on the market, are free from nuts and do not use coconut oil as their main fat component.
In addition to being fully plant-based and nut-free, the range is soy-free, gluten-free and keto-friendly, yet tastes exactly the same as its real dairy counterpart to appeal to the growing swathes of mainstream flexitarians. According to recent estimates, as many as 60% of Americans are now actively shifting to plant-forward and flexitarian diets, driven by health and sustainability concerns.
“We’re not vegan ourselves, but we recognise that there are enormous sustainability issues surrounding dairy production. Our goal is to help everyday people shift away from dairy, by creating something so insanely tasty, you wouldn’t think twice about choosing it over cheddar,” said Veronica Fil, CEO of Grounded Foods, who co-founded the startup with partner and fellow Melbourne native Shaun Quade.
Because of Grounded Foods’ commitment to use unusual ingredients to fight food waste, the startup has been able to overcome several challenges that food techs face to compete with mainstream animal-based products – namely, price point, but also in terms of nutrition. According to the firm, their cauliflower and hemp-based cheeses contain high levels of calcium, vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Our goal is to help everyday people shift away from dairy, by creating something so insanely tasty, you wouldn’t think twice about choosing it over cheddar.Veronica Fil, Co-Founder & CEO, Grounded Foods
We’re not vegan ourselves, but we recognise that there are enormous sustainability issues surrounding dairy production.Veronica Fil, Co-Founder & CEO, Grounded Foods
In a previous interview with Green Queen Media, Fil said that one additional obstacle the company has had to grapple with was coronavirus-related delays that slowed the pace of its product launch.
“It was meant to happen in November, but like many startups, we’ve been massively constrained by covid delays – for instance, waiting for our equipment to arrive and be cleared through customs,” Fil explained.
Prior to its much-anticipated launch, the young plant-based dairy startup was already turning heads, with big alternative protein investment names like Stray Dog Capital and Veg Invest Trust backing the company in a US$1.74 million seed funding round last summer.
While the entire plant-based market has seen explosive growth in recent years, industry experts are eyeing the vegan cheese segment as one of the biggest business opportunities to capitalise on. According to recent estimates, the global plant-based cheese market is set to double from its current US$2.7 billion to over US$4.5 billion by as soon as 2025, prompting some of the largest established food brands to hop in on the trend, from Bel Brands to Danone.
All images courtesy of Grounded Foods / Shaun Quade.