17.5.2022 Press release
Paulig’s venture arm PINC, alongside Rockstart and other co-investors, has invested in Dutch plant-based cheese start-up Willicroft in a €2m pre-series A investment round. Willicroft offers a range of plant-based cheeses, made by combining age-old techniques with planet-friendly ingredients such as beans and pulses.  As a sustainability frontrunner, Paulig actively seeks food and beverage innovations that enable the health and wellbeing of people and the planet. As the first certified B Corp (1) cheese alternative in Europe, Willicroft’s products support this ambition. With this funding, the company will expand into new markets like the Nordics, the UK and Germany.

The plant-based food industry in Europe is growing at a record-level (2). Inspired by the dairy farming roots of its founders, Willicroft combines traditional techniques with high quality plant-based ingredients, creating alternatives that are not only better for the planet but also incredibly tasty.  

Willicroft is by far the tastiest plant-based cheese range we have come across. It has a more nutritious and sustainable ingredient list than most alternatives available today and a high-powered team with traction in Europe, so we could not be more excited to support this venture. Paulig wants to build a new, sustainable food culture that enables the wellbeing of the planet, and this investment supports that goal”, says Marika King, Head of PINC, the venture arm of Paulig.  

Consumers have become increasingly aware of food's environmental footprint, but the carbon emissions of cheese are often overlooked. Willicroft is addressing this by producing plant-based alternatives that are just as tasty. Willicroft is one of the first cheese companies in Europe to base their product on beans and pulses, and their selection of plant-based cheeses ranges from soft spreads to hard cheese. They have especially paid attention to taste and mouthfeel, alongside sustainable, scalable production. Willicroft collaborates with farmers to provide more sustainable, locally produced ingredients, such as white beans.  

Our new bean-based range produces up to 5 times less CO2 than the dairy alternatives it's replacing (3). With this new raise locked in we'll be bringing our delicious, beautifully branded range of plant-based cheese to 3 new markets: the UK, Germany and the Nordics, bringing in senior talent and continuing on our quest to become the world's first net positive plant-based cheese company. Our new investor group can help open up a number of new markets whilst also fast-tracking our products' continued evolution”, says Brad Vanstone, Co-Founder and CEO, Willicroft. 

PINC led the €2m seed round with Rockstart, a global early-stage investor, alongside Döhler and Feast Ventures as co-investors.  

Willicroft is taking plant-based dairy alternatives to the next level. Alongside making delicious products, they are helping farmers to transition to sustainable production by enabling a local supply chain without the need for monocropping or highly processed ingredients. They have spent the last years understanding their consumers and their footprint, and the next phase will be to put those learnings to scale”, comments Mark Durno, Managing Partner AgriFood, Rockstart.  

 

For further information, please contact:    
Janna Viisterä   
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications   
+358 40 8620 055    
janna.viistera@paulig.com   

 

 

About PINC 

PINC is Paulig’s venture arm for investments in early stage start-ups in and around the future of food. The objective of PINC is to help Paulig renew itself and prosper as well as contribute to a tastier and more sustainable planet.  Paulig is a Finnish food & beverage company with brands such as Paulig coffee, Santa Maria, Risenta and PocoLoco. 

About Willicroft 

Willicroft is an Amsterdam based plant-based cheese company. Founded as a dairy farm in the UK in 1957, it was relaunched in its re-imagined form as a plant-based cheese company in Amsterdam in 2018. Willicroft is the first plant-based cheese company to become BCorp in Europe and is focused on making planet-proof cheese plant-based alternatives that are just as tasty as those they're replacing. 

About Rockstart 

Rockstart is an early stage investor that empowers purpose-driven founders across three domains: Energy, AgriFood and Emerging Technologies. Rockstart invests in early-stage startups and provides access to capital, market, and expertise by connecting founders with co-investors, mentors, partners, corporates and the wider Rockstart network. 

 

About Paulig:   

Paulig is a family-owned food and beverage company, growing a new, sustainable food culture – one that is good for both people and the planet. Paulig provides all things tasty; coffees and beverages, Tex Mex and spices, snacks and plant-based choices. The company's brands are Paulig, Santa Maria, Risenta, Poco Loco and Liven. Paulig’s sales amounted to EUR 966 million in 2021. The company has 2,200 passionate employees in 13 different countries working around the purpose For a life full of flavour.  www.pauliggroup.com

 

Sources:

  1. B Corp certification:  https://www.bcorporation.net/en-us/find-a-b-corp/company/willicroft 

  2. LCIA (Life Cycle Impact Assessment) conducted by consultancy agency Narrate, based on data sourced from EcoChain.   

  3. EU-funded SMART PROTEIN project: Europe’s plant-based food industry shows record-level growth | News | CORDIS | European Commission (europa.eu)

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