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Umiami officially launches industrial production of plant-based meat in Alsace, France

March 19, 2024

On Monday 18 March, French start-up Umiami officially inaugurated its first meat substitute manufacturing plant in Duppigheim (Bas-Rhin), Alsace, France, and has great ambitions.

"Thanks to our pioneering technology, we are the first company in the world to reproduce the texture of any cut of meat or fish," commented Tristan Maurel, Umiami Co-founder & CEO.

Founded four years ago in Île-de-France, the company relies on an internally developed technology, called 'umization', to stand out from unstructured meat substitutes such as nuggets, minced steaks, or sausages.

"The fibrous texture of meat is very complicated to reproduce with vegetables," explained Martin Habfast, Co-founder & Commercial Director of Umiami, to AFP. "The vast majority of players today use the extrusion process, which can only make minced products."

"We have created a unique process that allows us to recreate long fibers to find the appearance of a fillet and the pleasure that goes with it," he explained.

This technology, for which a patent is "being filed", according to the company, allows for a reduction of "between six and 10" the number of ingredients needed to create a plant-based substitute for a meat fillet.

"These are products that are simple to understand, there are no texturizers, no controversial additives, and with excellent nutritional values: 21% protein for 6% fat, less than one gram of salt per 100 grams of product," added Habfast.

Begun on a smaller scale on the Saclay plateau, in the Paris region, the company's production currently focuses on a single product: a chicken substitute.

Production is expanding with the Duppigheim plant, which employs 50 people and is capable of supplying 7,500 tons per year, and up to 20,000 tons in the coming years if a second and third line were to be installed.

The product, marketed to distributors working for restaurants and industrialists supplying supermarkets, is already present in 2,000 points of sale, mainly abroad. "This should increase quite a bit in the next two years," added Habfast, citing the recent opening of sales offices in the USA and Japan.

To develop, the company, which has nearly 120 employees, has raised €100 million (loans, equity, and subsidies) since its creation, relying in particular on €43 million contributed by Bpifrance (€10.6 million in loans, €11 million in subsidies, and €21.7 million in equity) and other subsidies from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) of the Grand Est region.

"We invest when the entrepreneur is very good, their project is well-developed, and they are on a mega-trend," in this case "the development of alternatives to meat," said Nicolas Dufourcq, CEO of Bpifrance, to AFP. "Umiami checks all three boxes. In addition, it brings innovation."

While the company is not yet profitable, "the short-term goal is first to develop, to grow," emphasized Habfast. Umiami is currently working on developing recipes for beef and salmon fillet substitutes.

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