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Mars has named the fledgling Australian companies to join the US giant’s Seeds of Change accelerator programme.

The Snickers chocolate and Dolmio cooking sauce maker announced the launch of Seeds of Change in March, with plans to select six companies in the US and four in Australia.

Mars revealed the identities of the US firms last month – and today named six companies in Australia with which it plans to work.

The Australian companies include those doing business in areas such as fermented foods, plant-based products and insect farming.

Peter Crane, R&D director at Mars’ Australian arm, said: “The world is changing at a rapid pace with consumer needs evolving and new approaches and technologies transforming business. We hope this accelerator acts as a catalyst to help forward-thinking innovators bring their purpose-driven food-focused visions to life.”

The six companies will each receive a grant of up to AUD40,000 (US$27,000) and work with Mars for four months to, the Wrigley owner said, “help tackle the biggest individual challenges to their business growth, whether that’s branding, product development, market intelligence, sales or supply chain”.

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Melbourne-based Grounded is one of two businesses focused on plant-based foods to have been selected, alongside the Queensland-based Plant-Based Meat.

Michael Fox, the founder of Plant-Based Meat, which uses shredded shiitake mushrooms as the base ingredient for his products, said: “I’m hoping to launch in a few months’ time, and then looking to scale up, so the opportunity to connect with people experienced in the food industry to help me do that is invaluable. I need to fill some gaps around product and recipe development, distribution locally and internationally, and even with things like labelling laws. Now I’ll have access to the right people who can help me in each of those areas.”

Mars also selected Sydney-based insect farmer Edible Bug Shop, which processes insects such as ants and meal worms into ingredients.

Founder Skye Blackburn said: “You don’t just have to eat bugs if you are stuck in the bush and have nothing else to eat. When prepared properly, and you get over the initial ‘yuck’ factor, bugs are very tasty and are also good for you.”

Spiralz Fermented Foods, a company based in New South Wales, Victoria-based The Australian Superfood Co. and Queensland-based Your Prep, a direct-to-consumer business, are the other firms to have been selected.

Read: just-food’s interview: “There are a lot of areas we haven’t tapped into” – Mars exec Clarence Mak on rationale for Seeds of Change accelerator

Read: Hatching new ideas – just-food’s guide to Big Food’s incubator and accelerator programmes