The French company Umiami, which develops foods with the texture of meat or fish from plants, announced on Tuesday that it had raised 32.5 million euros in order to develop its factory in Alsace and expand into Europe. and in the United States.
Launched in 2020, the company created a process to transform a dough resembling pancake batter into a product similar, in its fibrous texture and taste, to a chicken fillet. Umiami also works on the equivalent of other cuts of meat or fish, its co-founders, Tristan Maurel and Martin Habfast, tell AFP. After working in a research and development center in Île-de-France, at the end of 2022 they bought the former Knorr site in Duppigheim (Bas-Rhin), closed in 2021, to produce more and market on a larger scale in Europe.
A first production line, with a capacity of 7,500 tonnes per year, is due to start there by the end of the year with 70 people. The goal is to employ up to 200 people. Umiami is also launching in the United States, opening an office in Chicago and recruiting a team there. This country “is a huge market for chicken breasts, a niche where there are almost no plant-based alternatives,” estimates Tristan Maurel. The fillet currently made by Umiami consists of soy protein, water, salt, citric acid, natural flavors, yeast and oil - a limited number of ingredients compared to many plant-based substitutes to meat. And its price is on par with chicken breast produced in France, assures Martin Habfast.
The public bank Bpifrance, via its Industrial Project Companies (SPI) and French Tech Seed funds, participated in the fundraising alongside other investors including Astanor Ventures, Redalpine, Newfund and VERSO Capital. “This is the time for Umiami to accelerate its launch to the market” and we must “give it the means,” explained Clara Marlière of the SPI fund, specializing in long-term support for industrialization projects. The meat substitutes currently offered on the market are generally “highly processed” and consumers, particularly flexitarians, “are looking for more sustainable products,” she told AFP. Since its creation, Umiami has obtained around 100 million euros in financing (investments, loans and grants).