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Nordic Umami Company secures €1.8M in seed round to develop tech that extracts umami from plant-based food waste

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2 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
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Image credits: Nordic Umami Company

Finnish foodtech start-up Nordic Umami Company has raised €1.8 million (around £1.6 million) in its latest round of seed funding, which it says will help it become a leading supplier of meat-free umami.

Nordic Food Tech VC led the round, with investors Heino Group Oy, Holdix Oy Ab, Vaens Oy and Anne Soininen also contributing. In April 2022, the start-up also received a grant of €800.000 from Business Finland and NextGeneration EU, which brings its total funding raised to €2.6 million.

In 2021, Nordic Umami Company unveiled its fermentation-based tech which can extract umami flavour from plant-based food by-products.

While the company aims to create goods for the industrial umami market, it did launch three products for retail as proof of concept in 2022 – the Meatless Umami Bouillon, a Fishless Umami Sauce, and Umami Salt.

The start-up hopes its products will give alternative proteins and other plant-based foods the attractive umami flavour which is otherwise typically found in meat-based goods.

The meatless bouillon is one of the first fully natural and sustainable umami sources, the company says, and is currently in use in several industrial food projects. It also says the product is being trialled in some fine-dining restaurants in Finland.

The start-up hopes to use the funding raised to build an industrial-sized pilot plant and improve and build its products and portfolio for the food industry.

Reetta Kivelä, the Nordic Umami Company CIO and Co-Founder, said: “We found the original idea for natural umami through a real-life problem. We realised 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.”

Eetu Viuhkonen, Nordic Umami Company CEO added: “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”.

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

Learn more about the role artificial intelligence could play in matching animal products to meat-free ingredients in this latest Food Matters Live Podcast episode:

Could AI solve our meat alternative challenges?

Explore Food Matters Live’s upcoming events

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