Umiami acquires Unilever factory to establish 'Made-in-France plant-based meat'
After announcing a fund-raising of €26.5 million last April and the opening of its R&D center and pilot industrial site in the Greater Paris region in June, the food-tech start-up specializing in the production of plant-based alternatives to meat, Umiami, is heading east to establish its first production site in Duppigheim (around 15km from Strasbourg).
From the second half of 2023, the 14,000m2 building, located on a 9.1-acre plot, will house the first factory in the world capable of large-scale production of all cuts of meat and fish exclusively from plants. Based on a unique and patented technology, Umiami will produce 7,500 tons per year and per production line in the operational phase. The factory will eventually be able to produce up to 22,000 tons of plant-based meat and fish alternatives.
With its strategic positioning in the heart of Europe, UMIAMI’s primary market, the proximity of Umiami's main sources of procurement for its raw materials, and the region’s industrial know-how and culture made Alsace a preferred destination for the company’s founders and their teams.
In selecting the industrial site in Duppigheim, formerly occupied by Knorr (a Unilever group brand), the company’s managers also chose to re-use certain existing equipment and thereby have a more virtuous environmental impact than constructing a new factory from scratch.
Following the Première Usine call for projects, Umiami will receive a government grant of €7.4 million to help finance the investments required to establish its industrial site.
The project is also supported by the Grand-Est region, which aims to support the industrialization project with €3 million of funding in order to ensure Umiami's long-term presence in the region.
“All the local authorities welcomed us with extraordinary professionalism and enthusiasm, emphasizing the fantastic unity shown across the political spectrum in order to promote local economic and industrial growth," commented Tristan Maurel, CEO & Co-founder. "The region’s industrial know-how and strategic positioning at the heart of Europe convinced us that Alsace was the best place for our development. We are therefore delighted to be able to contribute to local job creation and national food sovereignty by establishing our site in Duppigheim.”
Umiami has developed a 100% plant-based product that imitates meat in every way (taste, texture, color, juiciness, etc) to support the food transition of consumers who have been used to tasting and cooking these products since childhood. To achieve this, the Umiami teams developed 'umization', an innovative protein texturizing technology which gives a fibrous consistency from plant matrices and allows control of the fibers’ size, direction and thickness. Umization now makes it possible to produce a whole, thick and 100% plant-based cut with fibers similar to those of meat.
The result of two years of research and development, the product has achieved a level of taste and texture quality unrivaled on the market. Numerous consumer tests have obtained excellent satisfaction scores.
The company’s ambition to offer a healthy, simple and environmentally-friendly product, using its own technology, has enabled it to reduce its products’ composition to seven ingredients (compared with at least 15 to 20 for comparable methods) – a performance in line with the “clean label” ethical approach.
“The products we offer are produced using totally innovative technology," added Reechad Benyahia, Chief Operating Officer. "They need to be perfect in terms of their tasting pleasure, their nutritional characteristics and their consistent quality over time. The transition to industrial production could not tolerate the slightest deviation. We perfected it for months in our pilot factory in order to obtain a result we can be proud of.”
Building on its commitments, Umiami has also set itself the goal of avoiding 300,000 tons of CO2 over the next 10 years compared with poultry production.
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