Parma-based start-up Dreamfarm has attracted €5m ($5.3m) to develop its portfolio of plant-based cheeses.
The investment was made in 2021 by Giampaolo Cagnin, entrepreneur and founder of Italiana Ingredienti, Campus, and Hi-Food, and Francesco Mutti, owner and CEO of tinned tomatoes producer Mutti.
Cagnin said: “We invested in the project because we believe that it [has the ability to revolutionise the sector], thanks to important innovations in the technological field and an attractive and very recognisable branding on the shelf.”
According to Dreamfarm, some of the investment has already been used to build its first production plant in Sala Baganza, Parma. It said the space has been installed with special technology that can optimise the start-up’s unique patented production process.
The company currently has a workforce of seven people.
Following two years of R&D and developing a patented technology for producing its plant-based cheeses, Dreamfarm launched its first two products in May – a plant-based cheese spread and vegan mozzarella alternative that sits in a preserving liquid.
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The plant-based mozzarella has a Nutri-Score of ‘A’, which is the highest rating on the European nutritional labelling scale.
Dreamfarm said it plans to use the remaining funding to grow its distribution channel in Italy and abroad, with a goal to launch in Germany and Belgium next year, Just Food was told.
The start-up also said it will invest in its R&D to help expand its product portfolio.
Its products are available at specialist retailers in Italy and in Barcelona.
The company was co-founded in 2021 by Maddalena Zanoni, former head of Danone-owned Alpro and Provamel in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta, and Mattia Sandei, previously an R&D researcher at functional ingredients group Campus.
Giovanni Menozzi was appointed as CEO in April 2023, with a background as an angel investor at consumer brands developer Heroes.
According to his profile on LinkedIn, Cagnin became chairman and angel investor in the company in April.
Speaking on the start-up’s portfolio and future plans, Menozzi said: “The Dreamfarm alternative to mozzarella is an innovative product, with less than 1% saturated fats and which is therefore increasingly aimed at that large segment of consumers [who are] attentive to aspects related to sustainability and nutritional profile but who do not want to [give] up the goodness of a typically Italian product.
“The [plant-based cheese] sector is growing rapidly and we are convinced that we can have our say on a global level with the type of products we have and will continue to develop.”