Susie White, the entrepreneur behind Australia’s first plant-based ice cream brand SuperSeed, conceived the idea for a hemp-based ice cream after working in the food and beverage industry for many years and realized that existing plant-based ice creams on the market all contain allergens.
White introduced SuperSeed to the public amid ongoing shutdowns due to the global pandemic. Despite this, and being relatively new to the market, the product has made its way into the public consciousness not only because of its new premise, but also because of the positive feedback it has received.
IFMCG: What inspired you to create something as unique as hemp-based ice cream?
Susie White: I recently entered the world of allergen-free, plant-based foods when I was diagnosed with celiac. I was surprised to learn that many plant-based ice creams still contain allergens like gluten or nuts, and use ingredients with bad environmental impact, like coconut and almond milk. While researching more sustainable and allergen-friendly ingredients, I discovered that hemp seeds could be made into a thick, creamy milk that is naturally delicious and ideal for ice cream. I decided to create a new plant-based ice cream for people with multiple food intolerances and/or vegan food preferences.
How was the experience of turning this idea into a physical product?
It took more time and resources than I ever imagined. I entered a capital-intensive frozen food category dominated by established companies while breaking established recipe rules by making vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free ice cream. The past year has been a roller coaster ride of triumphs and disasters. I couldn’t use a communal kitchen as the commercial ice cream making equipment is large, fixed, not readily available and not allergen free. Instead, I sourced raw ingredients, tested recipes, bought commercial ice cream equipment, rented a warehouse, and built a dedicated allergen-free kitchen in Victoria’s Yarra Ranges.
Aside from the ingredients, what sets SuperSeed Ice Cream apart as a plant-based food product?
Being a sustainable business for good is a high priority for SuperSeed. Our ice cream tubs are made from bamboo, which is one of the fastest growing grasses in the world, requiring less soil and regenerating from cut stems, making it a “super” choice renewable and sustainable. Our bins are lined with a plant-based PLA resin made from sugarcane, rather than traditional petroleum-based PE plastic, making them biodegradable and industrially compostable. SuperSeed also supports the regeneration of Australia’s rainforest with every purchase made. We have saved 834 meters of Australian rainforest so far.
Being the first of its kind in the Australian market, how do you handle the challenge of bringing SuperSeed ice cream to the public?
Many vegan, plant-based, and “flexitarian” consumers are already aware of the nutritional and sustainable benefits of hemp seeds. Our priority is to showcase the delicious taste and creamy texture of hemp seeds in SuperSeed Ice Cream. That’s why we focus on ice cream tastings at weekend markets and in-store with our stockists. The beauty of this is that you never run out of people willing to try your product. We also started getting positive product reviews from vegan, allergy-free, and plant-based product advocates, and entered food prizes to showcase the great taste of SuperSeed Ice Cream. .
Having spent more than 20 years in a corporate environment, what was the most important achievement for you when you became an entrepreneur?
I really appreciate the autonomy to start and run your own business. It’s hard to walk away from the steady income, job security, professional respect, and regular working hours of a corporate job. However, this loss was more than offset by the satisfaction of building a business that supports my own values, ambitions and sense of purpose. Entrepreneurs must be prepared to make uncomfortable compromises. For example, I traded in my corporate luxury SUV for a 15-year-old ice cream delivery van. Every time I drive it, I know I’m happy to take one step closer to achieving my goals.
What are your plans for the development of SuperSeeds over the next two years?
Over the past year, SuperSeed has grown from a hobby to a side hustle to a start-up business. Over the next couple of years, I would like SuperSeed to become the next generation of sustainable, plant-based ice cream that delights consumers. Our goal is to become a fast-growing, profitable business, expanding distribution to natural food, whole food and independent retailers, and sharing our naturally delicious plant-based products across Australia.
The story originally appeared on Inside Small Business.