Umaro Foods, a new company that uses farmed red seaweed to make plant-based bacon, just confirmed that it has landed a funding of $3 million.
The investment, which was led by AgFunder, will help the company release its first product, a plant-based bacon that tastes and looks a lot like real bacon, is high in umami, and is made with its own red protein, Umaro. It will be sold in specific restaurants in the second quarter of this year.
CEO Beth Zotter and CTO Dr Amanda Stiles both started Umaro Foods in 2019 in Berkeley, California.
Zotter said during a press statement, “Bacon is the gold standard of plant-based foods, and our new recipe is a major breakthrough in the sector.”
Zotter and Stiles received $6 million in science and technology research funding under Trophic, the company’s former name, including from ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy) of the Department of Energy, Good Food Institute, and Activate Fellows.
The company’s bacon is made with extracts from red seaweeds grown in the ocean. These extracts replace heme, the red protein component that causes plant-based meat to “bleed.” Seaweed-based ingredients are also used to incorporate plant-based oils into fat that “crisps and crunches just like animal fat,” according to the company.
Bacon is the best food to show how seaweed protein could be used to make plant-based meat in years to come, Umaru believes.
“The ocean is our largest protein bioreactor, and seaweed is the most sustainable and safest way to get protein. It doesn’t need any land, fresh water, or man-made fertilisers. In the years ahead, most of the protein we need will come from seaweed,” Zotter said.
“A plant-based product that tastes, smells, and works like bacon can be exciting for consumers to eat, and this gives us a product that can compete with animal bacon in the market.”
Investors in technology and consumer food items, such as Alexandria Venture Investments, Ahimsa Foundation, Impact Science Ventures, Clear Current Capital, Ponderosa Ventures and Sustainable Food Ventures, all took part in the funding round.