Grounded Foods | Celebrating Australian Food and Agribusiness Innovations 2021
When Veronica Fil founded Grounded Foods she started on a path that would disrupt the vegan ‘cheese’ category. Wanting to steer away from available alternatives typically made from nuts, soy, coconut oil, starch and flavours, Veronica sought inspiration from her husband, chef Shaun Quade. Shaun has earned a reputation for creating food using unexpected elements, so was a logical choice to help Veronica identify a suitable ingredient to create a range of plant-based cheeses that are allergen-free.
She settled on a blend of hemp seed and cauliflower, selected because of its consistency, high nutritional value, year-round accessibility and excellent flavour profile, once fermented.
It took about three months to crack the perfect formulation, during which the team resisted the temptation of working with food scientists, who encouraged the use of artificial flavour compounds and modified ingredients to standardise the product — the exact approach they were trying to avoid. They also focused on minimising food waste and leveraging imperfect produce, a common practice in commercial kitchens, with a vision of making the vegetables the hero of the Grounded Foods product.
The upshot is a range of plant-based cheese products including hard cheddar-style blocks and aged cheeses, soft cream cheeses and sauces that aim to make cheese alternatives more appealing, accessible and affordable to a broader audience.
Grounded Foods was part of the Mars Seeds of Change Accelerator, which was supported by FIAL, receiving financial support along with invaluable networking opportunity and PR coverage. This helped the team gain the attention of overseas investors and realise the goal of landing products into the target market — the United States.
Further down the track, Grounded Foods hopes to increase manufacturing capability in Australia and re-enter the local market, partnering with dairy farmers who are keen to repurpose land and take part in the plant-based economy, along with produce farmers that have an excess of imperfect produce.