LOS ANGELES — Grounded Foods Co., a maker of plant-based cheese alternatives, has raised $2.5 million in pre-Series A funding. Participants in the funding round include existing investors Big Idea Ventures and Stray Dog Capital, as well as new partners Route 66 Ventures, Nucleus Capital, Kale United and Presight Capital.  

Grounded Foods products are formulated with hemp seed and imperfect cauliflower. Varieties include lemon, garlic and thyme marinated goat cheese-style blocks; an onion and chives cream cheese-style spread; and an American cheese-style sauce. The products are available online and at select retail locations including Whole Foods Market, Bristol Farms and Harmon’s stores.

Free of nuts, soy and gluten, the products were designed for flexitarians seeking to reduce dairy consumption, according to the company. Grounded Foods was founded by Australian business partners Veronica Fil, a former behavior economist, and Shaun Quade, a chef and restaurateur. The startup uses a novel fermentation process to achieve textures that replicate dairy cheese.

The founders plan to use the proceeds from the funding round to expand retail distribution throughout the United States. The investment also establishes a gateway to the European market, where demand for plant-based alternatives is growing, according to the company.

“We look for outlier entrepreneurs who have the potential to make a global impact,” said Fabian Hansen, founding partner of Presight Capital. “Grounded addresses an immediate need in the market for high quality, nutritious and sustainable dairy cheese alternatives — and due to the scalability of their process, we see enormous potential for the company to expand not only in the US market but internationally.”