BERKELEY, CALIF. — Umaro Foods has raised $3 million in a seed funding round led by AgFunder. The funding was announced days before co-founders Beth Zotter and Amanda Stiles, PhD, appeared on the television show “Shark Tank.”
Founded in 2019, Umaro Foods, formerly Trophic, is developing sustainable protein sourced from ocean-farmed seaweed. Its first product offering, plant-based bacon, is slated to launch in foodservice within the coming months. Future product development may include breakfast meat and other cured meats.
“Seaweed is surprisingly high in protein, and it’s one of the fastest-growing plants on earth,” Dr. Stiles said. “Seaweed requires no land, no fresh water and no fertilizers to grow. It’s a superfood for the planet.”
On “Shark Tank,” the pair accepted a deal with billionaire investor Mark Cuban for $1 million in exchange for an 8% stake of the business.
“We are pioneers at the forefront of a new frontier in protein,” Ms. Zotter said. “We’re developing advanced systems in high-tech ocean farming and precision protein extraction that will unlock the ocean as our future source of protein.”
The company’s protein serves as a functional replacement for heme, mimicking blood in meat. The company also uses seaweed-based ingredients to encapsulate plant-based oils into a fat that produces a crispy, crunchy texture.
“We are the first and only company to commercialize seaweed protein, and we have foundational intellectual property across the value chain,” Ms. Zotter said.
Previously, the company received $6 million in science and technology research awards, including the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, the Good Food Institute and the Activate Fellowship.Additional investors in the seed round include Alexandria Venture Investments, Impact Science Ventures, Ponderosa Ventures, Clear Current Capital, Ahimsa Foundation, and Sustainable Food Ventures.