[frömage] - Locally grown ingredients in a new and nutritious plant-based food
For Helen Thompson, it is not just more nutritious plant-based products on store shelves that is the driving force. Equally important is working on a small scale, collaborating with locally grown ingredients. A realisation that came to her suddenly in the middle of the South American jungle and which took her to SLU and a new and abrupt turn in her professional life.
[frömage] is the name of a brand new nutritious plant-based product and the first product Helen Thompson, MSc in Agricultural Science and founder of Bloomingood is behind. The name is a nod to the French word for cheese <fromage> and also reveals some of the product’s ingredients. The product is intended to be used in the same way as cheese on sandwiches and pizza. Compared to similar herbal products on the market today, [frömage] contains no oil and only a small amount of starch. Instead, it is based on fermented vegetables and seeds.
- The main ingredients of [frömage] are fermented cauliflower and seeds. The fact that the cauliflower is fermented gives a good and full-bodied taste and contributes to the product having a superior nutritional content. The seeds we use are mainly hemp seeds and sunflower seeds. To vary the taste, we use herbs as a seasoning, says Helen Thompson.
Testing provides answers about the taste
Helen does not really see any restrictions in terms of what ingredients can be used. It is more about choosing vegetables that are in season. In order to test and develop new flavors, Helen, with the support of SLU Holding, has, among other things, conducted market research with a focus on taste testing.
- The tests have been really valuable. Sometimes it is difficult to know if it is the idea itself, to develop new herbal products, which the market is positive about or if it is the taste. Taste testing has provided valuable feed-back and taken us further in the development work, says Helen.
New business opportunities for local growers
An important piece of the puzzle for Helen and Bloomingood Food is locally grown ingredients.
- Agriculture is important. Being able to produce good products within the country makes us less dependent on imported plant-based proteins. My hope is that an increased need for domestic raw ingredients will give farmers new business opportunities. At the same time as we are being forced to switch to eating a smaller proportion of animal protein, we need to create new opportunities and increase the demand for locally produced plant-based protein for new foods.
Increased sustainability with local collaboration
The vision for Bloomingood Food is not to rapidly scale up and grow. On the contrary. It is about getting started and developing local collaboration and continuing to work on a small scale. Using locally produced ingredients is crucial for Helen, who hopes that more nutritious plant-based products made from local ingredients will reach the stores. Working on a small scale with locally produced plant-based foods, she believes can really contribute to increased sustainability.
And it is here that her experience from projects in the South American jungle and other regions with conflicts between large-scale agricultural needs for land, the traditional territories of population groups and the habitats of local wildlife, serves as an extra driving force.
Conflicts of interest concerning land is a strong driving force
- Yes, I became really aware of the conflict over land and how the animals always lost the power struggle and their natural habitats in favour of agricultural demands for new territories. So I changed course, moved to Sweden and trained at SLU. With new knowledge is Bloomingood a concrete way to take the dialogue forward. Working together locally is I think is a way forward.
Helen calls for more creativity when it comes to ingredients and the proteins available locally. And working on a small scale.
- I definitely see an opportunity to scale up in the long term. But to begin with the focus will be on the Malmö region.
Tell us about your idea – Give it a go!
When asked what advice she wants to give other students and researchers who have an idea, the answer is:
- Don't be shy. Talk about your idea, run your thoughts past others. You will find people who are interested. Please contact SLU Holding to test your idea or project. I have received great help and support from SLU Open Lab, Leapfrogs and SLU Holding. It is also important to make a decision and get out of your own comfort zone. And if you do not succeed, you will learn plenty to use in other projects. Go for it, Give it a go!
Helen and SLU Holding have collaborated to develop her business concept. The concept have also recieved funding from Vinnova - Validation for Growth.
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