- Plant-based food manufacturer Alpha Foods signed a joint development agreement to work with animal-free egg protein maker The Every Company.
- The collaboration is intended to “accelerate improvements in the taste and texture of non-animal products,” a release about the agreement states.
- As sales across the category have slowed, plant-based meat companies are working to make improvements in their products’ ingredients, taste and texture to spur more purchases. This joint development agreement could help Alpha Foods improve all three areas.
The announcement doesn’t give specific details of the agreement, but it mentions that Every EggWhite, the company’s precision fermentation-created functional egg white protein, has been found to have binding and gelation properties superior to plant-based alternatives.
While today’s plant-based food manufacturers are courting flexitarians — consumers who eat both meat and plant-based items — they also don’t want to alienate vegan consumers. So while egg whites are a valuable functional ingredient for gelation and binding, many manufacturers look elsewhere.
Every EggWhite can bring the function of egg whites to plant-based products without the chicken that is normally required to lay the egg. The protein, which can bind, gel and whip just like the white of an egg, is produced through precision fermentation — a process through which yeasts are genetically modified to produce the same protein found in eggs when fermented. Every EggWhite, which has been certified by the Vegan Society, can be used in recipes much like actual egg whites.
“We’re drawn to EVERY’s animal-free proteins given they’re designed to help bridge the gap between plant-based products and the real thing, broadening the category to attract new consumers,” Alpha Foods co-founder and CEO Cole Orobetz said in a release. “We are very excited about this collaboration and look forward to bringing products to consumers soon.”
The products in Alpha’s current portfolio — which range from plant-based chicken nuggets and breakfast burritos to meatballs — don’t currently use egg whites as ingredients. Some plant-based brands used them in the past — Tyson’s Raised & Rooted plant-based chicken nuggets had egg whites when the brand launched, but they were eliminated in 2020. And some of Quorn’s mycoprotein-based Chiqin products use both egg white and milk.
This partnership may help give some of Alpha Foods’ products a better texture and a cleaner label and could potentially replace some of the more chemical-sounding ingredients, including cellulose and psyllium husk. It may also be the first of a new generation of plant-based foods, using a food tech ingredient to stay true to animal-free and sustainability ideals, but make the product closer to actual meat. While there are plant-based and fermentation alternative meat companies partnering with companies that create meat and animal fat from cells, this is the first partnership with a precision fermentation ingredient company.
For The Every Company, this is its biggest CPG partnership yet. Since Every first started making egg protein ingredients available to manufacturers, its launches have been on the small side: a limited protein-boosted smoothie from Pressed, macarons from California bakery Chantal Guillon and a functional alcoholic beverage from Pulp Culture.
There are no products or launch plans from this agreement yet, but Alpha Foods is a large player in plant-based, with more than 90,000 distribution points across the United States as of last November. Even a debut in a single product could get The Every Company’s ingredient much wider use or distribution than it has seen so far. This can help demonstrate the technology and the efficacy of animal-free egg protein, which in turn can help broaden these ingredients’ use in future launches.