- Just announced several globe-spanning partnerships to manufacture and distribute its mung bean-based Just Egg. Along with these partnerships, the private company raised an undisclosed amount of funding.
- San Francisco-based Just's new partners include South Korean food giant SPC Samlip, Thailand's Betagro Group, Mexico-based baker Grupo Bimbo, Colombian oil and fat producer Alianza Team, and Germany-based food delivery giant Delivery Hero. Some of Just's new funding came from these partnerships, the company said.
- The company also announced two high-profile additions to its board and advisers. Jacob Robbins is the current CEO of Singapore-based food and agriculture company Emeterra and a former global supply chain exec for Coca-Cola. Dana Hollinger, named as an observer and adviser to the board, is an attorney and insurance exec who has served on the California Public Employees Retirement System board, as well as the International Corporate Governance Network board.
Just Egg keeps on getting bigger, and these new partnerships help the egg substitute company further broaden its reach into a larger global market. According to the company, Just has sold the equivalent of 30 million eggs worldwide since it launched the product in late 2017.
But unlike most food companies that are on a steep growth trajectory, most of the increases for Just Egg have come from this kind of partnership. While the company has invested internally in expanding Just Egg, purchasing its former co-packer Del Dee Foods in December, it's been a trailblazer in international partnerships. Its first partnership in this vein was with Italy's Eurovo, announced in July 2018, and then with German poultry player PHW Group in early 2019.
"Our ability to scale to meet the demand is our main focus in 2020. It's humbling to see some of the world's most influential food companies join us to meet the challenge,” Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Just, said in a statement emailed to Food Dive. “We've come to have an enormous amount of respect for their approach to innovation and commitment to building a stronger, healthier food system."
These new partnerships are likely to operate in the same way Just's existing agreements work. In the case of Eurovo, it's similar to a licensing agreement. Eurovo manufactures and distributes Just Egg in its existing facilities. It sells the product in retail and foodservice channels, then pays royalties to Just. PHW Group uses its wide distribution network to get the product to more consumers throughout Europe.
Tetrick has told Food Dive this kind of partnership exemplifies the way Just hopes to positively impact the food system. The food-tech company focuses on using proteins in plants to make more sustainable food solutions, and has the goal of sharing those products, once perfected, with the world.
"We make our stuff, we put Just on it," Tetrick told Food Dive when its initial agreement with Eurovo was announced. "Then we find these forward-thinking companies around the world that have this exponential potential, we transfer the technology to them, and we ask them to go do their thing and hopefully we step back, and in a handful of years, we've done our part to make the food system a little bit better."
These new partnerships are in key geographic areas for Just to accelerate its global expansion of its egg product. The company has long eyed Asia for its huge market and potential. Just Egg first launched in China last year. While already a popular product, the company has seen new interest from manufacturers there in the wake of COVID-19. But there's much more to Asia than China, and these relationships will help bring the product to more consumers in both the northern and southern parts of the continent.
The partnerships also bring Just Egg to Latin America, where the egg market has exploded. South America has seen a nearly 60% increase in egg production from 2007 to 2017, while it's ratcheted up almost 37% in Latin America, according to UN stats reported by Zootecnica International.
While Just continues to expand its product footprint, the new board additions also signify a growing company. Robbins, whose company now focuses on global agribusiness and ingredients, has vast experience in connecting and expanding the international reach of a food platform through his years at Coca-Cola.
Hollinger's appointment as a board adviser and observer brings someone with vast knowledge of public investments to the company. CalPERS is one of the nation's largest asset holders, and according to Just, the system had more than $400 billion in investments when Hollinger was a board member.
With this new expertise on the board, does it mean Just is getting closer to going public? In 2017, Tetrick told Food Dive that the company may likely eventually pursue an IPO as a means of further achieving its mission. And Hollinger recently co-wrote an article published on Newsmax about what investors should look for as a company pursues an IPO. The company she described sounds a lot like Just: one with a commitment to environmental sustainability and social responsibility, a clear path to profitability, and good corporate leadership and governance.