Incubator success: Mondarella marks major milestone

One of the ProVeg Incubator’s alumni is making waves in the alternative dairy space. Mondarella, a plant-based cheese company, was part of our second cohort of startups and founder Piero Brunetti is now taking an exciting leap forward in his entrepreneurial journey.

One of the ProVeg Incubator’s alumni startups has just reached a major milestone. Plant-based cheese company Mondarella is launching its first product, a plant-based mozzarella, onto the mass market.

From summer 2020, customers can find the cheese alternative in nearly 4,000 European supermarkets. That includes 3,200 Lidl stores and also about 700 branches of Kaufland.

Piero Brunetti founded Mondarella because he wants to have an impact on the global food system. He says he spends a lot of time thinking about how to improve the way humans nourish themselves and the part he can play in that.

Piero thinks that, in a few years, it will be “completely normal” to mainly eat vegetarian food and to only consume small portions of animal products. That’s why he is creating plant-based products that pique the interest of consumers. “Hopefully this will also introduce them to new ways of eating”, he says.

Mondarella burgers with hummus and courgette


Italian roots

In originally choosing which type of product to focus on, Piero decided to follow his Italian roots. When transitioning to a plant-based diet himself, he admits that giving up mozzarella, a beloved Italian staple, was his biggest challenge. This led to years of research, recipe testing, and product development, all of which culminated in the Mondarella that you can find on supermarket shelves.

“Italian cuisine is straightforward, works well, and is absolutely scrumptious. In most cases, it’s the simplest things that turn out great” – Piero Brunetti

The mozzarella alternative contains 20% almonds in combination with other natural, raw ingredients and contains no sugar, gluten, or soy. The cheese-producing facility is just outside of Berlin and the company only works with environmentally-friendly almond farmers.

In 2019, Piero joined the ProVeg Incubator in order to take his growing business to the next level and completely changed his go-to-market strategy as a result, so as to enter the market in just the right way. He says that working with startups for several years, before founding his own company, helped him tremendously. He also stresses that entrepreneurs need to be passionate and unwavering in their mission to achieve success.

Piero Brunetti at the ProVeg Incubator Startup Demo Day

Rising demand from consumers

According to Research and Markets, the global plant-based cheese market will reach a valu of $4 billion by 2028. With rising consumer demand, the sector represents a key opportunity for innovation.

In 2019, ProVeg conducted a survey of over 6,000 people in order to canvas opinions on plant-based products that are currently available on supermarket shelves and to determine which consumers would like to see more of in the future.

In general, survey respondents reported being relatively satisfied with existing plant-based products. However, the category that they were least impressed by was plant-based cheese. In terms of taste, texture, and value for money, current products are not quite hitting the mark.

Mondarella samples with tomato and basil, photo by Jan Michalko

This means that there is space in this sector for innovation and for startups to populate this potentially very large niche with new products. The survey indicates that there is definitely a demand. When consumers answered the question on which type of plant-based products they would like to see more of, given the choice between 16 different options, plant-based cheese was the clear winner.

Piero says that he is extremely happy with the positive market response he’s already receiving for Mondarella’s plant-based cheese products. He also confirmed that the team is already developing further varieties, as well as working on some completely new ideas. Watch this space.

You might also like: