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Umami United, developer of plant-based egg replacer, closes Pre-Series A funding
Umami United Pte. Ltd. (“Umami United”) announces the closing of its Pre-Series A series invested by Beyond Next Ventures and Genesia Ventures. This has increased its accumulated investment to JPY 240M till date. Headquartered in Singapore, Umami United develops plant-based egg replacer that replicates both sensory attributes, as well as functionalities of eggs. Utilizing uniquely Japanese ingredients such as konjac flour and bittern asits main ingredients, Umami United achieves egg-like textures such as elasticity from konjac and crackling texture from tofu. The company also minimizes food loss by using wood ear mushrooms to extract umami through a proprietary food processing technique that applies enzymes based on fermentation technology in order to elevate the richness of egg tastes.
Hiroto Yamazaki, CEO of Umami United comments, “Our mission is to create the future with one table. We create delicious food from natural ingredients that allows people from different backgrounds to transcend barriers and eat at the same table. Through this fundraising, we aim to strengthen our efforts in both R&D and business development to deliver the World plant-based food inspired by wisdom and technology from Japan’s rich food history.” In response to bakery and confectionery industries’ needs for more complex egg-like functionalities and the growing demand for a separate egg white substitute, Umami United will be prioritizing the development of an egg white substitute product. The funding will also help the company to accelerate business development efforts in the growing markets of the US and Europe.
The round is led by Beyond Next Ventures, whose expertise lies in supporting early-stage entrepreneurs solve key social and environmental issues across Japan and India. Akito Arima, Partner and Agrifood Capitalist says, “As a lead investor in the agri-food space, I am convinced that Japanese food and agriculture are industries that can win in the world. Umami United, under the leadership of an outstanding management team, is developing innovative products that address the challenges and emerging needs to be solved.” The round is joined by Genesia Ventures, a Tokyo based pre-seed and seed stage investor focusing on themes across sustainability including fields of space tech, renewable energy. Masafumi Kawai, Partner and Chief Sustainability Chef (CSO) stresses the importance of Umami United’s innovation in alleviating concerns around production and consumption of eggs. He says, “The production and consumption of eggs has become a major concern in recent years, not only because of soaring prices due to severe supply shortages, but also because of its impact on health, with 10% of Japanese children being allergic to eggs. In addition, there are several other important factors to consider, such as the environmental impact of egg production, the animal welfare aspects of egg rearing methods, and the changing tastes and preferences of consumers.”
The average annual consumption of eggs per capita in Japan is estimated to be at 337, making it the second largest egg consuming country in the world. Only half of these eggs consumed are sold directly to consumers (BtoC), while the other half are used by restaurant chains and food manufacturers (BtoB). Currently, there are several companies developing and selling egg replacers in Japan with main focus on consumer usage. In contrast, the value of Umami United’s egg replacer lies as an ingredient serving the needs of businesses due to its versatility of applications across a wide range of prepared foods and confectionary goods.
The outbreak of the avian influenza at the end of last year has also caused the wholesale prices of eggs to rise from JPY 100 to JPY 300 per kilo. This has drawn considerable attention towards the role of egg replacers and plant-based eggs to ease concerns on price hikes and unstable supply, on top of catering towards egg allergies and vegan diet. The crisis has triggered a series of co-development projects with Japanese food manufacturers, who uses Umami United’s products as key ingredients. These food products will be launched in supermarkets and convenience stores in Japan starting from the fall/winter season of 2023.