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Vegan meat makers Umiami is focused on reproducing the fibrous texture of whole-muscle cut meat using only vegetables. For this purpose, it has invented a new proprietary texturisation technology. To ramp up its efforts, the company raised EUR€2.3M (approx.US$2.7M) in seed funding.
Paris-based Umiami’s seed funding round was supported by Centrale Paris, AgroParisTech, the Technical University of Munich, and Umiami Technologies.
Textured vegan meat
Tristan Maurel founded the startup back in May 2020 with two fellow students, Martin Habfast and Hugo Dupuis.
The main aim is to reproduce the texture of large whole pieces of meat with only vegetables. To achieve this, it has invented a process called umization, which is a unique alternative compared to traditional extrusion.
This process helps Umiami develop products like plant-based cod and chicken filets.
“We are the first company in the world capable of creating vegetable food matrices characterized by long aligned fibers and a thickness of up to 10 cm,” Les Echos, CEO Tristan Maurel, said in a recent interview. “Our know-how allows us to imitate, on a large scale, the fibrous texture of a large number of meat and fish fillets, starting with the chicken breast, using peas and soybeans.”
We are the first company in the world capable of creating vegetable food matrices characterized by long aligned fibers and a thickness of up to 10 cmTristan Maurel, CEO, Umiami
Umiami’s products have fewer than eight ingredients compared to around 30 ingredients its rivals have. The products do not have any texturizers, like methylcellulose, nor its texturing system has any impact on the colour or flavour. Instead, it helps to control the levels of firmness and elasticity to achieve the end result.
The company’s seed funding round witnessed EUR€1.5M (approx.US$1.7M) in investments from Paris-based venture capital firm Newfund, Kima Ventures, and 17 business angels, including Jérémy Rocher, serial entrepreneur and son of Yves Rocher. In addition, financing of EUR€800,000 (approx.US$947K) in debt, granted by bpifrance, Société Générale and CIC took the total amount to EUR€2.3M.
“Until now, there were only two options: dry extrusion to create minced products such as steaks or sausages, and wet extrusion to create small chicken-like pieces,” Head of partnerships of Umiami, Martin Habfast said. “However, no technology allowed to create thick fibrous whole cuts of meat. Our unique texturisation platform allows creating thick fibrous whole-cuts in which we master both the direction and the thickness of fibers. And it is cleaner-label, too.”
The new capital raised will help the company scale its protein texturization technology at a pilot scale, drive sales and help in protecting its intellectual property.
No technology allows to create thick fibrous whole cuts of meat. Our unique texturisation platform allows creating thick fibrous whole-cuts in which we master both the direction and the thickness of fibersMartin Habfast, head of partnerships of Umiami
With respect to protecting its technological recipe, the company will file a patent in France, with extensions to Europe and North America.
The company has called on the French higher education institution, AgroParisTech to measure its products for nutritional value and digestibility of proteins which constitute 20% of the contents.
In the beginning of 2022, it will start its pilot site by producing plant-based chicken, cod, salmon, tuna, beef, and pork fillets.
With an R&D budget of EUR€5M (approx. US$5.9M) set aside for the next two years, industrial production will begin in June 2023 with an expectation of over EUR€20M (approx.US$23M) in turnover in the first year.
Elsewhere, other companies are developing whole cut vegan meats, for instance, Indonesia-based Green Rebel, who unveiled a steak in what it calls the “first plant-based whole cut steak in Asia”.
In the U.S., food tech Aqua Cultured Foods has created what it claims is the world’s first whole-muscle cut seafood alternative through the process of microbial fermentation.
Plant-based group LIVEKINDLY Collective has joined forces with Dutch food tech Rival Foods to produce a “perfect” plant-based chicken. To achieve this, Rival will leverage its tech to produce fibrous whole cut vegan alternatives.
Lead image courtesy of Umiami.