- The FDA has warned Hampton Creek that it can no longer use the term "mayonnaise" or the image of an egg for its vegan-friendly Just Mayo products because they do not contain eggs, but do contain other ingredients not included in standard mayonnaise.
- The agency said using that term and image on Just Mayo's packaging "may be misleading to consumers because it may lead them to believe that the products are the standardized food, mayonnaise," Bloomberg reported.
- Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick told Inc. in response to the letter, "There’s no reason for us to rename the product. ... It says egg free right there on the label, and anyone can look at the ingredients on the back and see what the ingredients are."
Unilever Plc, maker of Hellmann's mayonnaise, filed a lawsuit against Hampton Creek over the same "mayonnaise" mislabeling issues last November. Hampton Creek delivered the same arguments to Unilever that it shared with the FDA earlier this week.
Unilever dropped the lawsuit in December, "so that Hampton Creek can address its label directly with industry groups and appropriate regulatory authorities," Mike Faherty, vice president for Foods of Unilever North America, told Forbes in December.
Such a change would take considerable rebranding time, money, and effort. Also, rebranding could confuse consumers, possibly harming sales if the rebranding is not clear or backed up by an explanatory marketing campaign.
With the egg supply still seeing shortages and high prices due to the impact of the bird flu this spring, Hampton Creek's egg-less products and egg substitutes may actually see an uptick in sales, especially as the weather cools and the risk for bird flu contamination returns.