The government of Japan has signaled its support for alternative protein innovation through the awarding of $27.7 million in funding to two domestic start-ups.

The investment  – which is being made via the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Innovation Promotion Fund Project organized by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – is going to plant-based egg producer Umami United cultivated meat firm IntegriCulture.

The Ministry of Agriculture established a plan in 2020 to enhance food security by diversifying protein sources, including the development of cultivated meat.

Umami United will receive approximately $9 million, which the start-up said it will use to improve the functionality of its plant-based eggs and develop market expansion strategies to enter the North American market.

Plant-based eggs from by Japan alternative protein start-up Umami United.
Plant-based eggs. Image via Umami United.

The start-up’s plant-based eggs are made with traditional Japanese ingredients such as konjac flour, soy, and wood ear mushrooms that the company upcycles using fermentation. Umami United claims its products offer egg-like textures, elasticity, and “real” taste.

The company also says it is co-developing new products with food manufacturers, including the Japanese giant KENKO Mayonnaise, which recently launched a ready-to-eat plant-based egg salad.

IntegriCulture, meanwhile, has been awarded $18.7 million to demonstrate the commercial viability of its cell-cultured foie gras and serum platforms. The biotech firm has created a cellular agriculture infrastructure platform called CulNet, through which it develops affordable growth mediums and other solutions for cultivated protein.

Cell-based foie gras-flavored flan by Japan alternative protein start-up IntegriCulture
Cell-based foie gras-flavored flan. Image via IntegriCulture

Integriculture told vegconomist that the grant money will not be used to build a commercial facility but rather to demonstrate the technical capability of developing products at a commercially viable price point.

According to the latest Food Frontier report on alternative proteins in Asia, Japan ranks as the second-largest market size for meat alternatives, valued at USD 247.5 million. However, its projected growth rate of 9% (CAGR 2022–27) lags other countries, with the Australia-based think tank connecting the slower growth to a lack of enthusiasm among Japanese consumers to reduce meat consumption.

To stay up-to-date on the latest industry headlines, sign up to Future Alternative’s enewsletter.

Posted on:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *