Tootie’s Tempeh

Tootie’s Tempeh

Tootie’s Tempeh (TT) is a Maine-based artisan producer of tempeh – a fermented, nutrient-dense plant protein made from soybeans or other beans and legumes. Founder Sarah Speare saw an opportunity for the traditional Indonesian food – long a protein stalwart among vegans and vegetarians- to reach a broader audience. “Most people don’t know what tempeh is, but they’re becoming aware of issues around animal agriculture and climate, as well as the benefits of a plant-based diet on their health. It’s delicious, it’s versatile, and it’s a perfect protein that can be grown and produced around the world.”

The company spent 3 years in R&D developing a new and better way to ferment tempeh – without the use of plastic bags. This proprietary fermentation process removes the bitter aftertaste of tempeh that can come with using plastic. TT’s owners argue theirs is the most sustainable and best tasting tempeh on the market. Tootie’s was incorporated as a worker-owned cooperative to equitably share the company’s success and all workers are offered living wages, benefits, and opportunities for decision-making and profit-sharing. The company sources soybeans- a nitrogen-fixing cover crop which farmers can rotate between their other cash crops- from local organic farmers.

The Flex Fund invested $25,000 as part of a round of Class B Preferred Shares in 2023. The capital raise enabled the company to scale production and expand distribution. In spring 2023, Tootie’s was accepted into both Hannaford Grocery Stores and Wholefoods, and they added a second distribution partner who will expand the company’s reach throughout New England.

Janice St. Onge, Flexible Capital Fund President

“It’s a great fit for the Flexible Capital Fund. A woman-led, worker-owned cooperative that supports healthy, local food systems is well aligned with our values.”