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Japanese Government Invests $27.7M in Alt Protein Startups: A Step Towards Food Security and Economic Support

Courtesy of Umami United
Courtesy of Umami United

The Japanese government has recently allocated $27.7 million in funding to two innovative alternative protein startups, Umami United and IntegriCulture. This initiative is part of the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Innovation Promotion Fund Project organized by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. The move represents a significant step in supporting the nation's economy and enhancing food security.


Umami United: Revolutionizing Plant-Based Eggs


Umami United has been granted approximately $9 million to establish and expand its operations in plant-based eggs, utilizing Japanese technology. The company aims to improve the functionality of its products and strategize its entry into the North American market. Their plant-based eggs, which are made using traditional Japanese ingredients, are designed to replicate the texture and taste of real eggs. Additionally, Umami United is focusing on developing an egg white replacer for the bakery and confectionery industries. The company has already secured a total of JPY 240 million in funding, including a recent pre-series A round, and is collaborating with food manufacturers like KENKO Mayonnaise.


IntegriCulture: Pioneering in Cell-Cultured Foie Gras and Serum Platforms


IntegriCulture has received a substantial investment of $18.7 million to demonstrate the commercial viability of its cell-cultured foie gras and serum platforms. This funding will enable the company to showcase its capability to develop products at a commercially viable price point. Specializing in affordable serum-free growth media and other cellular agriculture technologies, IntegriCulture claims success in developing cultivated foie gras and chicken at a significantly lower cost than traditional methods. With a recent $7 million series A-plus round in 2022, the company's total funding has reached $16.4 million. The new government funding marks a critical milestone in IntegriCulture's mission to democratize cellular agriculture.


Japan's Market Context


Japan holds the position of the second-largest market for meat alternatives, valued at $247.5 million. However, the country's projected growth rate in this sector is relatively low. This slow growth is attributed to a lack of enthusiasm among Japanese consumers for reducing meat consumption, presenting a unique challenge for alternative protein companies in the region.


Conclusion


The Japanese government's investment in Umami United and IntegriCulture highlights a growing recognition of alternative protein sources as crucial for the future of food security and economic development. This funding not only supports innovative endeavors in the food industry but also aligns with global trends towards sustainable and ethical food production. As these companies progress, they may play a vital role in transforming Japan's food landscape and possibly influence global food practices.


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