Japanese food tech Daiz announced this month that it has raised ¥650 million (US$6 million) in a Series A funding round. The investment was led by Japanese state-backed fund A-Five and tech venture capital firm Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. Daiz will use the latest capital to open one of the biggest vegan meat factories in the country, which will produce its proprietary soy-based “miracle chips” that mimics the texture of real meat.
Led by A-Five and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, Daiz’s latest US$6 million Series A round also attracted funding from Tokyo-based Okasan Capital Partners, Japanese frozen food giant Nichirei Foods and the organic produce supplier Kajitsudo.
The startup has previously been supported by investments from institutional names including Nishi-Nippon City Bank, QB Capital, Kagoshima Bank and food industry leader Nichirei Foods, and the latest round takes its total amount raised to around US$11.2 million.
Daiz plans to use the latest capital injection to build one of the largest plant-based meat factories in the country, with a manufacturing capacity of 3,300 tonnes of vegan meat annually. Its proprietary product is a raw ingredient called “miracle chip”, which is made out of soybeans and is used to recreate the texture of real meat.
The method used to create its “miracle chip” is a patented Ochiai process, where soybeans are germinated to activate enzymes and increase the number of free amino acids, which helps bring out the flavour and texture of the ingredient to mimic conventional meat without needing synthetic additives.
It will focus on distributing its products to the domestic market before entering the international arena, and is also looking to go public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange soon.
While veganism has yet to become mainstream in Japan, the latest investment is a sign that plant-based is certainly beginning to make significant inroads. Just last March, popular burger chain MOS Burger added a new vegan soy and konjac-based patty to its Tokyo and Kanagawa chains, suggesting that there is rising demand for plant-based options in contemporary Japanese food culture.
It followed the opening of an all-vegan konbini last December. Called the Vegan Store, the completely vegan convenience shop is filled to the brim with on-the-go plant-based snacks, onigiri rice balls, bento boxes and even 100% vegan soft-serve ice cream.
It is likely that the coronavirus pandemic has put a greater spotlight on the health, safety and sustainability concerns related to the animal meat industry, especially as slaughterhouses all over the world are recording rapid outbreaks of Covid-19.
Not only have plant-based startups garnered a greater show of support in light of these concerns, so have cultivated food techs who are also creating safer, more sustainable and crisis-resilient food solutions. Last week, Tokyo-based cultivated startup IntegriCulture Inc. announced a US$7.4 million Series A round, which currently stands as the largest Series A record for the alternative protein sector in Asia.
Lead image courtesy of Daiz.