Co-Founder and CEO of Mondarella, Germany
A common pain to many plant-based eaters, investor and cheese lover Frank Riedel really missed his melty fix after switching to a vegan lifestyle. “To go plant-based is a conscious decision and an everyday effort. Cheese is a difficult one for me. The taste, the smell, the food culture around it. But I also don’t want it to harm the planet, animals, or our health.” The Mondarella founder unpacks what goes way back: “My grandparents had a farm in the north of Germany, and I loved spending my holidays there. The animals, the fields and gardens. The food! Everything felt more real, natural, and exciting. On the other hand, I remember being shocked and scared of how some of the food was produced. As a child, you instinctively know it’s wrong.”
Seeing most current choices of vegan cheese as underwhelming, unhealthy, or too expensive, he was pleased to meet pioneers with the exact same mission. “When I met Piero Brunetti, my business partner who had passionately started working on the world’s first almond-based vegan mozzarella, I knew that together we could change that for good.” During their first year in business, Monderella sold about 120,000 cheeses at supermarkets, including Lidl and Kaufland, and in food service. In January 2022 alone, a year after launching, it was 40,000 units.
“It’s the great challenge in any plant-based food: Are you imitating or improving animal-based products?”
Inspirations, go-to’s and lifehacks:
- Pandemic lifehack that helped you survive 2021: Being an optimist
- A person that inspires you: People with true passion and compassion
- Last series/movie that kept you awake: The Billion Dollar Code (to be honest, it didn’t keep me awake)
- Favorite book / A book everyone should read: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
- App you find most valuable: LinkedIN
- Favorite food / favorite vegan treat: Overnight oats and all Mondarella cheeses
Their goal and strategy for this year is to multiply last year’s numbers by a factor of 6 to 8. Frank sees his CEO role as more of a guide, and with 20+ years of branding experience, it’s much more to him than just putting an innovative product on people’s tables (or cutting boards, for that matter):
“Plant-based cheese, per se, is already an improvement of dairy versions because you subtracted the environmental and animal concerns. Now, imagine if you add unique flavours, textures, aromas, and maximize its health benefits. Our task is to give people the tastiest, healthiest plant-based cheeses at the right price, and serve it with a compelling brand experience, so they can embrace food transformation and full-heartedly enjoy the new food world ahead every day.”
Frank is one of the Food Heroes for 2022. See more inspiring and world-changing stories from Food Heroes here.