France’s Umiami has added to its Series A funding pot as the plant-based chicken business plans to scale into a new factory and launch in the US.
The €32.5m ($34.1m) top-up brings Paris-headquartered Umiami’s total financing to date to €100m. Set up in 2020 by Tristan Maurel and Martin Habfast, the company secured $30m in the initial Series A round last year.
Umiami said the new capital from an investor consortium included a government-related fund in France, Sociétés de Projets Industriels. The SPI fund is managed by investment company Bpifrance. SPI is backed by the Programme d’Investissement d’Aveni and the European Investment Bank.
Currently operating out of a pilot facility in Paris, Umiami plans to open a new factory in Alsace located in north-east France. The plant will have an initial capacity of 7,500 tons, eventually building to 20,000 tons “over time”.
A spokesperson for Umiami confirmed to Just Food the Alsace factory is a former plant owned by Unilever for its Knorr brand and is undergoing reconditioning, adding the site will open in the “coming months”. No firm date has yet been set.
Umiami said it had also received additional “non-dilutive” financing amounting to €43m for the new site as part of the French government’s 2030 economic and investment programme.
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The company claims to have come up with a “unique protein texturising process” for its first product – plant-based chicken breasts – and will also use the cash to invest in and launch further items developed at the R&D site in Paris.
“Umiami has revolutionised the production of plant-based meat with its very own texturising technology called ‘umisation’. This innovation is the first of its kind in the world, containing under ten ingredients, and free of texturising agents or controversial additives,” the business explained in a statement.
The founders said: “This round of funding will enable us to continue our mission to revolutionise the food industry by offering sustainable and tasty alternatives to meat-based products. We are also delighted to announce our expansion into the US, where we are determined to bring our innovation to American consumers.”
To that end, Umiami has hired former Lamb Weston and PepsiCo executive John Hatto as managing director for North America. “His expertise and leadership will guide the company through this new development phase,” the company said.
The spokesperson said an announcement on the US product launch is imminent and will include information on Umiami’s target customers. The company representative was unwilling to share details on the business’ revenue or growth rates.
Elsewhere, the business has expanded in Europe, launching in The Co-Op retailer in Switzerland in the summer to add to Umiami’s foodservice presence in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy.
Returning investors to the Series A top-up included Astanor Ventures, Redalpine, Newfund and Verso Capital.
Jean-Philippe Richard, a deputy director of the SPI fund, said: “Playing a part in the industrialisation of a start-up like Umiami is fully in line with the SPI fund’s raison d’être.
“It enables us to boost reindustrialisation in France while enhancing the country’s reputation for agri-food expertise internationally through the development of cutting-edge initiatives serving healthy, traceable food with a low carbon footprint.”