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Nordic Umami Company has raised €2.6 million to scale its umami technology

January 9, 2023

The Nordic Umami Company, a Finnish food technology start-up developing sustainable umami, has secured €2.6 million in a capital raise. The company aims to become the leading global supplier of vegan umami for the food industry.

In 2021, the Nordic Umami Company introduced a new fermentation-based technology to extract umami from plant-based industry by-products, followed by the company's first commercial product, the Meatless Umami Bouillon, one of the first all-natural and sustainable umami sources.

Now the company aims to scale the technology into an industrial-sized pilot plant and further develop its products and portfolio for the food industry.

To do so, the less than two-year-old company completed a seed funding round in December 2022, raising €1.8 million. The round, led by the Nordic Food Tech VC, brought the company four new investors: Heino Group Oy, Holdix Oy Ab, Vaens Oy and Anne Soininen. In addition to these direct investments, the Nordic Umami Company also received an EU & Business Finland Next Generation grant of €800,000, increasing the total financing to €2.6 million.

Although the Nordic Umami Company focuses on the industrial umami market, it has also made its first three products available for retail sale as proof of concept.

The emission-reduction benefits of shifting to a plant-based diet are well documented. Yet many people are still deterred by the taste of alternative proteins. Or rather, their lack of taste. Plant-based food often misses what people naturally crave: umami, the deliciousness, explained Eetu Viuhkonen, CEO, Nordic Umami Company.

"We found the original idea for natural umami through a real-life problem," said Reetta Kivelä, the Nordic Umami Company CIO and co-founder. "We realized that the options for bringing umami to plant foods were limited. All alternatives had health, naturality or sustainability challenges. However, vegan food must also have the fifth basic flavour, umami.

That's where the story of the Nordic Umami Company began. With two patents pending, the company develops and manufactures all-natural, sustainable umami from circular ingredients, aiming to accelerate the shift towards a fully sustainable food system. Their mission is not just to make vegetarian food delicious but to upcycle edible food that otherwise would be wasted.

The need for clean-label umami is increasing globally, noted Viuhkonen. The driver for the growth is the shift in diets: companies must investigate alternatives to traditional animal-based umami, e-codes and soy.

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