Whole Foods to Sell Plant-Based Eggs

Hampton Creek Foods, a Bill Gates and Peter Thiel-backed San Francisco startup, has just rolled out two eggless products in California Whole Foods stores. The company’s new products, Beyond Eggs and Just Mayo, are made from simple plant-based ingredients that mimic the taste of eggs in mayonnaise, cakes and cookies and aim to be better for animals, the environment and local economies.

Made from a mixture of peas, sorghum, sunflower lecithin, canola and a few other basic ingredients, Beyond Eggs and Just Mayo have passed numerous blind taste tests with flying colors. The majority of tasters have not been able to tell the difference and some even preferred the taste of foods with the eggless products.

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It wasn’t easy getting the right plant-based formula though, admits Hampton Creek Foods CEO, Jack Tetrick.

“Our first attempts weren’t great, we tried to make a muffin using a mix of plants,” Tetrick told the Daily Mail. “Ours tasted really gummy, and didn’t have the ‘bounce’ we wanted. Our mayonnaise would not hold the oil and egg together, so had what looked like liquid syrup. Scrambled eggs were even worse – they just wouldn’t congeal at all, and had a really bad aftertaste.”

The company worked with a number of botanists, biochemists and food scientists to get the correct taste and binding properties they were looking for. According to co.EXIST, the company tested 344 fake egg prototypes and examined 287 types of plants before the products launched earlier this year in May.

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Hampton Creek Foods is working on other egg alternative products as well including cookie dough called Eat the Dough and a product that creates realistic scrambled eggs.

The global demand for eggs in 2000 hovered around 14 million tons, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization as reported by Investor Place. It is estimated that this demand will increase to 38 million tons by 2030, placing greater economic and ecological pressure on our land and farmers to grow grains only for animal feed and potentially creating factory farming conditions worse than we can imagine.

Hampton Creek Foods’ quest to make eggless products was spurred by a desire to fix this broken industry model that is causing more harm than good to animals, the planet and people’s health.

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“The food industry is begging for innovation, especially where animals are involved – it is a broken industry,” said Tetrick.

While vegetarians and vegans may end up being the initial consumers of Hampton Creek Foods’ new products, the company is looking to be competitive in the $6 billion global egg ingredient market and they are already in talks with major global food manufacturers, reports co.EXIST. Some California Whole Foods stores have even started using Just Mayo for chicken and tuna salad sandwiches instead of regular mayonnaise.

Ultimately Tetrick knows that in order for Hampton Creek Foods to be competitive with major egg-product producers, the cost of their product must be affordable for everyday consumers and companies.

“My dad doesn’t care about climate change or food safety,” he said. “The only way we’ll succeed is not by promoting our sustainability, but by having a product that is both better and more affordable than our competitors.”

The company estimates that the cost of their products is around 18 percent less than real eggs. What’s more, they are just not striving to make products that are affordable, eco-friendly and taste great. The company has a global vision as well. They hope to eventually roll out their products in developing countries and allow these countries to grow and produce their own “plant eggs.”

“What we want to do eventually is find a way to work with farmers in the developing world to enable them to have new cash crops that can be used. Then we become the kind of company to be feared by the bad guys in the industry,” said Tetrick.

It’s hard not to cheer for these products and the company. Indeed, they may just be the start of a brighter future for us all.

Image source: Farm Watch/ Flickr