The Every Company, based in San Francisco, was already generating interest among manufacturers as it has been ramping up R&D and production to create animal-free egg protein ingredients.
But, Vice President of Partnerships Nick Toriello said, as egg prices have soared in recent months, due to the bird flu, a lot more potential customers have been looking for alternatives, including Every Company’s precision fermentation-derived egg white — known as Every EggWhite.
“We make probably hundreds of kilograms of it every week,” Toriello said. “We do application testing in house every week. I eat products that include it every week, and where we're at is we're sampling probably, I would say, about a half dozen new companies every week.”
At The Every Company, precision fermentation creates the same proteins found in eggs, but without an animal. Companies that use precision fermentation modify organisms, such as yeasts, so they produce other proteins when fermented. The Every Company — formerly known as Clara Foods — has two animal-free egg ingredients: Every Protein, which was called Every ClearEgg at launch and is a soluble, tasteless and colorless protein that adds nutritional value; and Every EggWhite, which is a functional replacement for egg whites.
The Every Company is not the only startup working on creating animal-free egg proteins through precision fermentation, but it is the oldest, best capitalized and most developed in this space. Other companies aren’t yet on the market.
Potential manufacturers aren’t the only ones getting excited about The Every Company. Earlier this month, Oscar-winning actress Anne Hathaway announced she invested an undisclosed amount in the company.
“The need to transform our food system has never been clearer or more urgent,” Hathaway said in a release. “An important piece of the puzzle is in nature-equivalent animal proteins, such as EVERY has been developing.”
Drop-in (and macaron) ready
Every EggWhite launched a year ago, following seven years of R&D work. The ingredient gels, whips and binds like egg white.
The Every Company launched the ingredient through a partnership with California bakery Chantal Guillon. The bakery made a special line of macarons using Every EggWhite to demonstrate what the ingredient could do.
Macarons were an ideal way to launch Every EggWhite, Toriello said.
“It tastes like the original thing,” Toriello said. “They don't understand what they're even supposed to be asking — which is the best compliment one can get.”
Potential customers who are interested in the ingredient are often given a macaron tasting as they start asking questions about the performance and functionality of Every EggWhite.
In fact, because Every EggWhite has the same properties as actual egg white, companies interested in using the ingredient usually have to do only minimal reformulation, Toriello said. They also don’t need to compromise their original product, working around larger potential changes to the taste, color and texture that could come with using a plant-based substitute.
“It tastes like the original thing. They don't understand what they're even supposed to be asking — which is the best compliment one can get.”
VP of Partnerships, The Every Company
Because food manufacturers work far ahead of the calendar, making ingredient plans for product launches or changes that may be more than a year away, The Every Company’s potential new customers aren’t scrambling. Instead, Toriello said, the bird flu situation is more of a sustained reminder of the fragility of the food system, both from a price and supply standpoint. The people who Toriello is talking to are looking for a “supply chain hedge” — an ingredient for which the future supply can be guaranteed, no matter what is happening with birds.
Beyond the stable supply of Every EggWhite, Toriello said, customers are interested in sustainability and the health benefits of using an animal-free egg ingredient.
“What do customers want? They want a drop-in replacement that has no pesticides. They want something that is inherently antibiotic-free,” Toriello said. “We check all the boxes.”
Toriello said there is also strong interest in Every Protein independent of the bird flu situation. This protein is only present in very small amounts in eggs, and the ingredient is primarily for fortification; it has none of the functional capabilities of Every EggWhite.
Taking ‘the biggest step’
“The biggest step is going to be capacity,” Toriello said. “...That is where we spend a lot of our time.”
Toriello said that the company is actively seeking ways to increase how much egg protein it can make. The Every Company is working on several fronts to do this. Its partnership with BioBrew, a division of AB InBev’s venture arm ZX Ventures, continues. BioBrew brought the brewing giant’s deep knowledge of alcohol fermentation to help The Every Company achieve a similar scale for its egg proteins.
The Every Company, which Toriello said currently works with a variety of contract manufacturers, is working other angles to increase its output. The time-sensitive nature of more companies pushing to replace their egg ingredients is helping to accelerate those discussions.
A larger manufacturing capacity will also help the company lower its prices through economies of scale. Toriello did not comment on current pricing of Every EggWhite.
Today, The Every Company’s proteins are available in a few limited products — the macarons, a Pressed smoothie and a special line of Pulp Culture hard juice. He predicted one to two dozen products of all kinds using the proteins in a year and a half. The products may hit shelves sooner, as egg prices and availability could accelerate development, Toriello added.
“There's just a little more energy,” he said. “When customers want [your product] and [are] pulling what you can make as fast as you can make it — we can't keep our inventory up — that is motivating. …We're working on the right problem.”