- The Association for Dressings and Sauces reached out to the FDA multiple times last year in regards to regulatory action against Just Mayo, a vegan alternative mayonnaise brand from Hampton Creek, according to emails obtained by Associated Press.
- The association reportedly contacted the FDA months before the high-profile lawsuit Unilever filed against Hampton Creek on behalf of its own mayo brand, Hellmann's. Unilever later dropped the suit due to consumer backlash.
- After Unilever dropped the suit, the association contacted the FDA at least three more times. In August, the FDA sent its warning letter to Hampton Creek, which led to label tweaks though not a brand name change.
The role of the ADS and the American Egg Board in the FDA's eventual warning letter to Hampton Creek demonstrates the sway these organizations can have in the industry. AEB's actions have been scrutinized, and its former CEO Joanne Ivy stepped down not long after her group's emails surfaced in reports from the Associated Press and The Guardian.
This scenario also illustrates how disruptive startups can be to the food and beverage industry's status quo. Just Mayo sales don't come close to that of Hellmann's, yet Unilever invested in litigation against the brand's parent company due to Just Mayo's ingredients and label claims (namely that the product can't be called mayo if it doesn't contain eggs). Further, industry trade groups also stepped in to urge the FDA to take action on behalf of their members, which means those concerns went well beyond Unilever and Hellmann's.
Unilever released its own mayo alternative earlier this year under the Hellman's brand, named Hellmann's Carefully Crafted Dressing & Sandwich Spread.