Chicken or egg? Companies are scrambling to take the chicken out of the equation

Chicken or egg? Companies are scrambling to take the chicken out of the equation

By
Laura Robinson
March 10, 2020

From your favourite breakfast bowl to the brunch staple Shakshuka, some dishes just aren’t the same without a bit of #yolkporn.

But now, with concerns about animal welfare and our carbon footprint at the forefront of our minds, what’s a hip brunch spot to do?  

Given the buzz around cow-free meat and milk, it was only a matter of time before forward-thinking food entrepreneurs hatched a plan to put chickens out of a job. While manufacturers like Tate & Lyle and Arla Foods have focused on selling substitute ingredients to the bakery sector, ambitious start-ups have embraced the challenge of recreating the unique taste and mouthfeel of egg centre stage.  

Either way, experts predict that the global market for egg replacements will reach $1.152 billion by 2022. So the rewards could be big for companies who learn the lessons from plant-based pioneers who’ve paved the path to mainstream.

Trend drivers: plant-based protein, animal welfare - and the coronavirus  

The last few years have witnessed the rise of the ethical omnivore. As consumers care more about their own health and the health of the planet, they’re looking for convenient alternatives that make it easy to eat in line with their values. Egg replacements are high in protein, cholesterol-free and boast a much smaller environmental impact when compared to standard eggs.

Around 90% of the one trillion eggs eaten every year still come from factory farming – a fact that is also getting harder for ethically-minded millennials and Generation Z to ignore. Vegan egg alternatives, just like meatless burgers and dairy-free milk, allow consumers to continue to make their favourite dishes, guilt free.

Over the last few years, repeated disease outbreaks in the poultry industry has also shaken confidence in the food system. Recent reports show that the coronavirus has once again exposed the vulnerability of animal protein supply chains. Consequently, manufacturers in countries like China are seeking partnerships with plant-based egg producers, who are seen as being able to provide a greater level of quality control.

Products: from cakes to mayonnaise to scramble and pad thai

Given eggs’ central role in the production of baked goods, it’s no surprise that early product development focused on substitute ingredients. Products like Nutrilac or Regg-Ex by Kröner-Stärke provide natural alternatives that allow bakers to reduce the egg content in their recipes by 30-100%. From cakes and biscuits to mayonnaise and noodles, these substitutes have become popular in the growing free-from market. As one expert put it, most people don’t care if a product contains egg, as long as their cake is still bouncy.

But then there are products that can be used to imitate the taste and mouthfeel of egg in a range of dishes – from scramble and omelette to Pad Thai and Spanish Tortilla. While some products, like VeganEgg or Vegan Easy Egg, are made from algae, soy flour, chickpeas or maize, Spero Foods turned to pumpkin seeds to create their clean label brand, Scrammblit. A switch towards more consumer-friendly liquid formulations that cook exactly like the real thing has helped to open up the market beyond baking. But now two French biologists are taking things a step further. Their Merveilloeufs boast a yolk, egg white and even a shell and are due to be launched in autumn 2020.

Battle of the start-ups: Just Inc. and Clara Foods.

In 2012, San Francisco based $1 billion enterprise, Just Inc., made it their mission to build a food system that makes it easy for people to eat well. Six years later, it seems like their team of world-class scientists and Michelin-starred chefs may just have cracked it. Their product, Just Egg, is created from mung beans and has received raving reviews. Their marketing efforts to normalize egg replacements and enable fans to demand a better breakfast by contacting their favourite food chains is certainly paying off. As of the 1st January this year they’d sold the equivalent of more than 20 million eggs. They’re also distributing in China – one of the fastest growing emerging markets – and will be launching a new range of frozen vegan egg omelettes in April this year.

The team behind Clara Foods, a fellow Silicon Valley start-up, is taking a different approach. Clara Food’s 30 under 30 CEO, Arturo Elizondo, doesn’t want consumers to have to choose between price and ethics. Thanks to a proprietary yeast fermentation process they are able to replicate the proteins found in eggs without using a single animal cell. This means clean label ingredients for a price generally cheaper than animal-based proteins and at a fraction of the environmental cost. After closing a successful Series B funding round last year, Elizondo will be working with Ingredion, a leading global ingredients company, to distribute their products across the globe.

Challenges: Price sensitivity and processed vs. natural

Despite consumers being generally willing to pay more for sustainable options, a recent survey found that 60% of consumers still consider many plant-based alternatives to be too expensive. Clara Foods aside, most whole egg replacements still have a higher price tag than their animal-based original. Recognizing this barrier, Just Egg recently acquired a new production facility, allowing it to drop its price by 35%. But at $4.99 for two portions, many consumers are still priced out of the market.  

As plant-based alternatives become increasingly normalized, consumer expectations grow - and a tension between authentic alternatives and a desire for real, minimally processed food emerges. So perhaps egg replacement entrepreneurs need to heed the lessons learned by alternative meat trailblazers? Products will need to be made from a small number of “clean” ingredients and adapt to a number of different cooking techniques – from baking to cooking and frying - to truly make it mainstream.

Business opportunities

Manufacturers

  • Consider using eggless substitutes to create vegan or free-from alternatives of your most popular baked goods or desserts.
  • Seek out a partnership with innovative whole egg replacement start-ups to develop the European market for vegan egg convenience products – from omelettes to breakfast burritos.

Food Service

  • Experiment with using egg replacements in your homemade baked goods or desserts to create alternative menu options for vegan or free-from customers.
  • Consider how you could include eggless alternatives into your breakfast menu to treat health and environmentally conscious consumers to some guilt-free indulgence.

Retail

  • Try adding some egg replacements to your baking range so that vegan or free-from customers can still tuck into bouncy cakes.
  • See which whole egg replacement products are distributed in your country and consider trialling them on your plant-based food shelves or directly next to the animal-based original to encourage flexitarian consumers to make the switch.

Written by
Laura Robinson

From policy geek to digital consultant, Laura has always enjoyed bringing people together through words or tools to drive positive change. She is most proud of finally taking the leap into entrepreneurship by founding Pink Pear Agency - a network of passionate specialists who help food businesses grow innovative projects and share their stories with the world. Laura is currently interested in project development and management, digital tools, content strategy and copywriting.

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From your favourite breakfast bowl to the brunch staple Shakshuka, some dishes just aren’t the same without a bit of #yolkporn.

But now, with concerns about animal welfare and our carbon footprint at the forefront of our minds, what’s a hip brunch spot to do?  

Given the buzz around cow-free meat and milk, it was only a matter of time before forward-thinking food entrepreneurs hatched a plan to put chickens out of a job. While manufacturers like Tate & Lyle and Arla Foods have focused on selling substitute ingredients to the bakery sector, ambitious start-ups have embraced the challenge of recreating the unique taste and mouthfeel of egg centre stage.  

Either way, experts predict that the global market for egg replacements will reach $1.152 billion by 2022. So the rewards could be big for companies who learn the lessons from plant-based pioneers who’ve paved the path to mainstream.

Trend drivers: plant-based protein, animal welfare - and the coronavirus  

The last few years have witnessed the rise of the ethical omnivore. As consumers care more about their own health and the health of the planet, they’re looking for convenient alternatives that make it easy to eat in line with their values. Egg replacements are high in protein, cholesterol-free and boast a much smaller environmental impact when compared to standard eggs.

Around 90% of the one trillion eggs eaten every year still come from factory farming – a fact that is also getting harder for ethically-minded millennials and Generation Z to ignore. Vegan egg alternatives, just like meatless burgers and dairy-free milk, allow consumers to continue to make their favourite dishes, guilt free.

Over the last few years, repeated disease outbreaks in the poultry industry has also shaken confidence in the food system. Recent reports show that the coronavirus has once again exposed the vulnerability of animal protein supply chains. Consequently, manufacturers in countries like China are seeking partnerships with plant-based egg producers, who are seen as being able to provide a greater level of quality control.

Products: from cakes to mayonnaise to scramble and pad thai

Given eggs’ central role in the production of baked goods, it’s no surprise that early product development focused on substitute ingredients. Products like Nutrilac or Regg-Ex by Kröner-Stärke provide natural alternatives that allow bakers to reduce the egg content in their recipes by 30-100%. From cakes and biscuits to mayonnaise and noodles, these substitutes have become popular in the growing free-from market. As one expert put it, most people don’t care if a product contains egg, as long as their cake is still bouncy.

But then there are products that can be used to imitate the taste and mouthfeel of egg in a range of dishes – from scramble and omelette to Pad Thai and Spanish Tortilla. While some products, like VeganEgg or Vegan Easy Egg, are made from algae, soy flour, chickpeas or maize, Spero Foods turned to pumpkin seeds to create their clean label brand, Scrammblit. A switch towards more consumer-friendly liquid formulations that cook exactly like the real thing has helped to open up the market beyond baking. But now two French biologists are taking things a step further. Their Merveilloeufs boast a yolk, egg white and even a shell and are due to be launched in autumn 2020.

Battle of the start-ups: Just Inc. and Clara Foods.

In 2012, San Francisco based $1 billion enterprise, Just Inc., made it their mission to build a food system that makes it easy for people to eat well. Six years later, it seems like their team of world-class scientists and Michelin-starred chefs may just have cracked it. Their product, Just Egg, is created from mung beans and has received raving reviews. Their marketing efforts to normalize egg replacements and enable fans to demand a better breakfast by contacting their favourite food chains is certainly paying off. As of the 1st January this year they’d sold the equivalent of more than 20 million eggs. They’re also distributing in China – one of the fastest growing emerging markets – and will be launching a new range of frozen vegan egg omelettes in April this year.

The team behind Clara Foods, a fellow Silicon Valley start-up, is taking a different approach. Clara Food’s 30 under 30 CEO, Arturo Elizondo, doesn’t want consumers to have to choose between price and ethics. Thanks to a proprietary yeast fermentation process they are able to replicate the proteins found in eggs without using a single animal cell. This means clean label ingredients for a price generally cheaper than animal-based proteins and at a fraction of the environmental cost. After closing a successful Series B funding round last year, Elizondo will be working with Ingredion, a leading global ingredients company, to distribute their products across the globe.

Challenges: Price sensitivity and processed vs. natural

Despite consumers being generally willing to pay more for sustainable options, a recent survey found that 60% of consumers still consider many plant-based alternatives to be too expensive. Clara Foods aside, most whole egg replacements still have a higher price tag than their animal-based original. Recognizing this barrier, Just Egg recently acquired a new production facility, allowing it to drop its price by 35%. But at $4.99 for two portions, many consumers are still priced out of the market.  

As plant-based alternatives become increasingly normalized, consumer expectations grow - and a tension between authentic alternatives and a desire for real, minimally processed food emerges. So perhaps egg replacement entrepreneurs need to heed the lessons learned by alternative meat trailblazers? Products will need to be made from a small number of “clean” ingredients and adapt to a number of different cooking techniques – from baking to cooking and frying - to truly make it mainstream.

Business opportunities

Manufacturers

  • Consider using eggless substitutes to create vegan or free-from alternatives of your most popular baked goods or desserts.
  • Seek out a partnership with innovative whole egg replacement start-ups to develop the European market for vegan egg convenience products – from omelettes to breakfast burritos.

Food Service

  • Experiment with using egg replacements in your homemade baked goods or desserts to create alternative menu options for vegan or free-from customers.
  • Consider how you could include eggless alternatives into your breakfast menu to treat health and environmentally conscious consumers to some guilt-free indulgence.

Retail

  • Try adding some egg replacements to your baking range so that vegan or free-from customers can still tuck into bouncy cakes.
  • See which whole egg replacement products are distributed in your country and consider trialling them on your plant-based food shelves or directly next to the animal-based original to encourage flexitarian consumers to make the switch.

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From your favourite breakfast bowl to the brunch staple Shakshuka, some dishes just aren’t the same without a bit of #yolkporn.

But now, with concerns about animal welfare and our carbon footprint at the forefront of our minds, what’s a hip brunch spot to do?  

Given the buzz around cow-free meat and milk, it was only a matter of time before forward-thinking food entrepreneurs hatched a plan to put chickens out of a job. While manufacturers like Tate & Lyle and Arla Foods have focused on selling substitute ingredients to the bakery sector, ambitious start-ups have embraced the challenge of recreating the unique taste and mouthfeel of egg centre stage.  

Either way, experts predict that the global market for egg replacements will reach $1.152 billion by 2022. So the rewards could be big for companies who learn the lessons from plant-based pioneers who’ve paved the path to mainstream.

Trend drivers: plant-based protein, animal welfare - and the coronavirus  

The last few years have witnessed the rise of the ethical omnivore. As consumers care more about their own health and the health of the planet, they’re looking for convenient alternatives that make it easy to eat in line with their values. Egg replacements are high in protein, cholesterol-free and boast a much smaller environmental impact when compared to standard eggs.

Around 90% of the one trillion eggs eaten every year still come from factory farming – a fact that is also getting harder for ethically-minded millennials and Generation Z to ignore. Vegan egg alternatives, just like meatless burgers and dairy-free milk, allow consumers to continue to make their favourite dishes, guilt free.

Over the last few years, repeated disease outbreaks in the poultry industry has also shaken confidence in the food system. Recent reports show that the coronavirus has once again exposed the vulnerability of animal protein supply chains. Consequently, manufacturers in countries like China are seeking partnerships with plant-based egg producers, who are seen as being able to provide a greater level of quality control.

Products: from cakes to mayonnaise to scramble and pad thai

Given eggs’ central role in the production of baked goods, it’s no surprise that early product development focused on substitute ingredients. Products like Nutrilac or Regg-Ex by Kröner-Stärke provide natural alternatives that allow bakers to reduce the egg content in their recipes by 30-100%. From cakes and biscuits to mayonnaise and noodles, these substitutes have become popular in the growing free-from market. As one expert put it, most people don’t care if a product contains egg, as long as their cake is still bouncy.

But then there are products that can be used to imitate the taste and mouthfeel of egg in a range of dishes – from scramble and omelette to Pad Thai and Spanish Tortilla. While some products, like VeganEgg or Vegan Easy Egg, are made from algae, soy flour, chickpeas or maize, Spero Foods turned to pumpkin seeds to create their clean label brand, Scrammblit. A switch towards more consumer-friendly liquid formulations that cook exactly like the real thing has helped to open up the market beyond baking. But now two French biologists are taking things a step further. Their Merveilloeufs boast a yolk, egg white and even a shell and are due to be launched in autumn 2020.

Battle of the start-ups: Just Inc. and Clara Foods.

In 2012, San Francisco based $1 billion enterprise, Just Inc., made it their mission to build a food system that makes it easy for people to eat well. Six years later, it seems like their team of world-class scientists and Michelin-starred chefs may just have cracked it. Their product, Just Egg, is created from mung beans and has received raving reviews. Their marketing efforts to normalize egg replacements and enable fans to demand a better breakfast by contacting their favourite food chains is certainly paying off. As of the 1st January this year they’d sold the equivalent of more than 20 million eggs. They’re also distributing in China – one of the fastest growing emerging markets – and will be launching a new range of frozen vegan egg omelettes in April this year.

The team behind Clara Foods, a fellow Silicon Valley start-up, is taking a different approach. Clara Food’s 30 under 30 CEO, Arturo Elizondo, doesn’t want consumers to have to choose between price and ethics. Thanks to a proprietary yeast fermentation process they are able to replicate the proteins found in eggs without using a single animal cell. This means clean label ingredients for a price generally cheaper than animal-based proteins and at a fraction of the environmental cost. After closing a successful Series B funding round last year, Elizondo will be working with Ingredion, a leading global ingredients company, to distribute their products across the globe.

Challenges: Price sensitivity and processed vs. natural

Despite consumers being generally willing to pay more for sustainable options, a recent survey found that 60% of consumers still consider many plant-based alternatives to be too expensive. Clara Foods aside, most whole egg replacements still have a higher price tag than their animal-based original. Recognizing this barrier, Just Egg recently acquired a new production facility, allowing it to drop its price by 35%. But at $4.99 for two portions, many consumers are still priced out of the market.  

As plant-based alternatives become increasingly normalized, consumer expectations grow - and a tension between authentic alternatives and a desire for real, minimally processed food emerges. So perhaps egg replacement entrepreneurs need to heed the lessons learned by alternative meat trailblazers? Products will need to be made from a small number of “clean” ingredients and adapt to a number of different cooking techniques – from baking to cooking and frying - to truly make it mainstream.

Business opportunities

Manufacturers

  • Consider using eggless substitutes to create vegan or free-from alternatives of your most popular baked goods or desserts.
  • Seek out a partnership with innovative whole egg replacement start-ups to develop the European market for vegan egg convenience products – from omelettes to breakfast burritos.

Food Service

  • Experiment with using egg replacements in your homemade baked goods or desserts to create alternative menu options for vegan or free-from customers.
  • Consider how you could include eggless alternatives into your breakfast menu to treat health and environmentally conscious consumers to some guilt-free indulgence.

Retail

  • Try adding some egg replacements to your baking range so that vegan or free-from customers can still tuck into bouncy cakes.
  • See which whole egg replacement products are distributed in your country and consider trialling them on your plant-based food shelves or directly next to the animal-based original to encourage flexitarian consumers to make the switch.

From your favourite breakfast bowl to the brunch staple Shakshuka, some dishes just aren’t the same without a bit of #yolkporn.

But now, with concerns about animal welfare and our carbon footprint at the forefront of our minds, what’s a hip brunch spot to do?  

Given the buzz around cow-free meat and milk, it was only a matter of time before forward-thinking food entrepreneurs hatched a plan to put chickens out of a job. While manufacturers like Tate & Lyle and Arla Foods have focused on selling substitute ingredients to the bakery sector, ambitious start-ups have embraced the challenge of recreating the unique taste and mouthfeel of egg centre stage.  

Either way, experts predict that the global market for egg replacements will reach $1.152 billion by 2022. So the rewards could be big for companies who learn the lessons from plant-based pioneers who’ve paved the path to mainstream.

Trend drivers: plant-based protein, animal welfare - and the coronavirus  

The last few years have witnessed the rise of the ethical omnivore. As consumers care more about their own health and the health of the planet, they’re looking for convenient alternatives that make it easy to eat in line with their values. Egg replacements are high in protein, cholesterol-free and boast a much smaller environmental impact when compared to standard eggs.

Around 90% of the one trillion eggs eaten every year still come from factory farming – a fact that is also getting harder for ethically-minded millennials and Generation Z to ignore. Vegan egg alternatives, just like meatless burgers and dairy-free milk, allow consumers to continue to make their favourite dishes, guilt free.

Over the last few years, repeated disease outbreaks in the poultry industry has also shaken confidence in the food system. Recent reports show that the coronavirus has once again exposed the vulnerability of animal protein supply chains. Consequently, manufacturers in countries like China are seeking partnerships with plant-based egg producers, who are seen as being able to provide a greater level of quality control.

Products: from cakes to mayonnaise to scramble and pad thai

Given eggs’ central role in the production of baked goods, it’s no surprise that early product development focused on substitute ingredients. Products like Nutrilac or Regg-Ex by Kröner-Stärke provide natural alternatives that allow bakers to reduce the egg content in their recipes by 30-100%. From cakes and biscuits to mayonnaise and noodles, these substitutes have become popular in the growing free-from market. As one expert put it, most people don’t care if a product contains egg, as long as their cake is still bouncy.

But then there are products that can be used to imitate the taste and mouthfeel of egg in a range of dishes – from scramble and omelette to Pad Thai and Spanish Tortilla. While some products, like VeganEgg or Vegan Easy Egg, are made from algae, soy flour, chickpeas or maize, Spero Foods turned to pumpkin seeds to create their clean label brand, Scrammblit. A switch towards more consumer-friendly liquid formulations that cook exactly like the real thing has helped to open up the market beyond baking. But now two French biologists are taking things a step further. Their Merveilloeufs boast a yolk, egg white and even a shell and are due to be launched in autumn 2020.

Battle of the start-ups: Just Inc. and Clara Foods.

In 2012, San Francisco based $1 billion enterprise, Just Inc., made it their mission to build a food system that makes it easy for people to eat well. Six years later, it seems like their team of world-class scientists and Michelin-starred chefs may just have cracked it. Their product, Just Egg, is created from mung beans and has received raving reviews. Their marketing efforts to normalize egg replacements and enable fans to demand a better breakfast by contacting their favourite food chains is certainly paying off. As of the 1st January this year they’d sold the equivalent of more than 20 million eggs. They’re also distributing in China – one of the fastest growing emerging markets – and will be launching a new range of frozen vegan egg omelettes in April this year.

The team behind Clara Foods, a fellow Silicon Valley start-up, is taking a different approach. Clara Food’s 30 under 30 CEO, Arturo Elizondo, doesn’t want consumers to have to choose between price and ethics. Thanks to a proprietary yeast fermentation process they are able to replicate the proteins found in eggs without using a single animal cell. This means clean label ingredients for a price generally cheaper than animal-based proteins and at a fraction of the environmental cost. After closing a successful Series B funding round last year, Elizondo will be working with Ingredion, a leading global ingredients company, to distribute their products across the globe.

Challenges: Price sensitivity and processed vs. natural

Despite consumers being generally willing to pay more for sustainable options, a recent survey found that 60% of consumers still consider many plant-based alternatives to be too expensive. Clara Foods aside, most whole egg replacements still have a higher price tag than their animal-based original. Recognizing this barrier, Just Egg recently acquired a new production facility, allowing it to drop its price by 35%. But at $4.99 for two portions, many consumers are still priced out of the market.  

As plant-based alternatives become increasingly normalized, consumer expectations grow - and a tension between authentic alternatives and a desire for real, minimally processed food emerges. So perhaps egg replacement entrepreneurs need to heed the lessons learned by alternative meat trailblazers? Products will need to be made from a small number of “clean” ingredients and adapt to a number of different cooking techniques – from baking to cooking and frying - to truly make it mainstream.

Business opportunities

Manufacturers

  • Consider using eggless substitutes to create vegan or free-from alternatives of your most popular baked goods or desserts.
  • Seek out a partnership with innovative whole egg replacement start-ups to develop the European market for vegan egg convenience products – from omelettes to breakfast burritos.

Food Service

  • Experiment with using egg replacements in your homemade baked goods or desserts to create alternative menu options for vegan or free-from customers.
  • Consider how you could include eggless alternatives into your breakfast menu to treat health and environmentally conscious consumers to some guilt-free indulgence.

Retail

  • Try adding some egg replacements to your baking range so that vegan or free-from customers can still tuck into bouncy cakes.
  • See which whole egg replacement products are distributed in your country and consider trialling them on your plant-based food shelves or directly next to the animal-based original to encourage flexitarian consumers to make the switch.