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April 7, 2022updated 08 Apr 2022 7:02am

French start-up Umiami secures funds for alternative-chicken development

Umiami said it has developed plant-based chicken breasts using a “unique protein texturising process”.

By Simon Harvey

Umiami, a French start-up developing plant-based chicken from a “unique protein texturising process”, has raised US$30m to fund its first factory.

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Paris-based Umiami, set up in 2020 by Tristan Maurel and Martin Habfast, claims the Series A is the largest to date in Europe for meat alternatives. The round was led by Belgium-based Astanor Ventures, Redalpine Venture Partners in Switzerland and investment platform French Partners.

Two years in the making, Umiami said it has developed plant-based chicken breasts using a “unique protein texturising process that gives a fibrous consistency from plant matrixes and allows control of fibre size, direction and thickness”, a process, reflecting the company name, that it claims is superior to extrusion practises.

It plans to target private-label customers, the foodservice channel and food manufacturers in northern Europe, North America and south-east Asia.

The company will open an “industrial R&D centre” near Paris by May this year focused on scaling-up production and new products, followed by a production plant by the end of 2023. Once operational, 200 new workers are expected to be employed at the site. Umiami has a staff of 20 people.

Co-founder Maurel said in a statement: “We must see umisation as a development platform opening a new chapter for the plant-protein market. It provides an exceptionally similar texture, limits the alteration of the vegetable proteins, preserves food flavours and does not require the addition of artificial texturising agents.”

Maurel told Just Food the company has raised EUR30m (US$32.7m) to date and expects to roll out the first products later this year in western Europe and North America.

Returning investors on the Series A were Verso Capital, a growth investor in Luxembourg, VC Newfund Capital in Paris, and French peer KIMA Ventures. The French Tech Seed Fund, managed by investment bank Bpifrance, also took part.

Hendrick Van Asbroeck, partner at Astanor, added: “Whole cuts are a major hurdle to the widespread integration of plant-based alternatives to meat and fish into the global diet. The founding team’s advanced technical research has resulted in a truly unique product that stands out on the international stage and we are excited to support them in this next step of development.”

Just Food analysis, December 2021: Is US plant-based meat market facing inflection point or short-term blip?

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Disruptive start-ups to watch out for

2021 was a record-breaking year, with more businesses breaking into the billion-dollar club. Many start-ups have achieved or retained the unicorn status by the end of the year to reflect nearly a fivefold growth from that in 2020. This boom can be linked to a financing frenzy spurred by the quick adoption of technology and innovative solutions by start-ups gaining traction in response to the pandemic. However, the start-up ecosystem is now facing turbulent times for fundraising as investors seek long-term business strategies, valuations, and a route to profitability amid uncertain market circumstances. Nevertheless, 2022 has the potential to carry forward the momentum with multiple entities having a fair chance of being in the right place when aided by the right technologies. GlobalData leverages the power of alternative data to examine the health of start-ups across multiple dimensions including the quality of their innovations, market presence, and the funding they can attract. This helps our clients to analyze the disruptive potential of start-ups for early alliances, investments, and acquisition prospects to develop future-proof strategic roadmaps for a competitive advantage. Read our report and gather insights on the following topics:
  • Recent Unicorn trends
  • Unicorns in 2022
  • Future Unicorns
  • Start-ups to watch out for
Start-up ecosystem outlook by top geographies
by GlobalData
Enter your details here to receive your free Whitepaper.

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