PHILADELPHIA — Vegan cheese producer Conscious Cultures Creamery revealed it is changing its name to Bandit. The plant-based foods company also announced it raised $1.5 million in a seed funding round led by venture capital firm Prime Movers Lab.
Bandit uses cashews as the base for its vegan cheeses. Varieties include a cave-aged, double cream camembert-inspired bloomy rind called Maverick and a cave-aged, vegetable ash ripened cheese with an ash inlay called Barn Cat. The company also produces an assortment of seasonal plant-based cheeses.
The rebrand from Conscious Creamery to Bandit reflects the startup’s origins, said Bo Babaki, founder and chief executive officer.
“Younger cheese enthusiasts recognize the tremendous impact that agricultural practices are having on climate change, the environment and animal welfare,” Babaki said. “We recognized that our former brand resonated with that crowd but did not feel as welcoming to the cheese market as a whole… Bandit is an ode to our humble beginning hustling cheese from Philly to Brooklyn using cave-modified household refrigerators in the basement of a yoga studio.”
Bandit will use funds from the $1.5 million seed round to continue scaling its production process and distribution. Consumers can expect to find the vegan cheese in a variety of new grocery stores in northern California, Texas and Illinois in the coming months, according to the company.
“We have been looking for a dairy-alternative investment, and at the end of the day, Bandit just tasted better than anything else we tried,” said Gaetano Crupi, partner at Prime Movers Lab and a member of the board at Bandit. “They make delicious plant-based foods that will find broad acceptance among chefs at elite restaurants as well as the average American consumer shopping the aisles of their neighborhood grocery store.”
Bandit is the second food startup in Prime Movers’ portfolio. The venture capital firm previously invested in Upward Farms, a sustainable aquaponic farming company. Other portfolio investments span in-space transportation, industrial solar heat, ag tech, nano-structured materials, prosthetics, 3D printing, artificial intelligence and more.