Arla Foods Ingredients has created an online calculator to help baking companies calculate how much money they could save using the company's whey-based egg replacers instead of real eggs.
The subsidiary of Danish firm Arla Foods said replacing half the eggs in a recipe with its Nutrilac whey proteins could help companies control costs, improve product quality and potentially contribute to reducing food waste. The company said its egg replacers substituted for up to 300 million eggs in 2017.
Global egg production has been under pressure in recent years with several avian flu outbreaks, egg contamination in Europe last year by the insecticide Fipronil and a recent salmonella outbreak linked to eggs. Arla said these cases have helped egg replacers become more popular.
Arla's online calculator is a savvy marketing move and may draw some new customers to its sweet whey-based substitutes. While phasing eggs out completely won't solve all food safety challenges, it could help smooth out price volatility with the product.
Egg replacers appear to have a rosy future. According to Market.Biz, the global egg replacers market is projected to go from $945.2 million last year to $1.36 billion by the end of 2023.
Most egg replacers typically contain some type of starch and binding ingredients to mimic egg functions. Eggs provide structure, height, leavening, color, moisture and flavor to cakes and other baked goods, so replacements need to provide those same things to be effective.
It's no wonder that several companies are making egg replacers, including Corbion, Ingredion, Danone Nutricia, Dupont, Archer Daniels Midland and Tate & Lyle. JUST, formerly Hampton Creek, has developed a plant-based egg alternative, Just Scramble, which is made from mung beans. The cholesterol-free product debuted in December and is initially being marketed to chefs, restaurants and manufacturers before hitting retail shelves sometime this year.
Arla's Nutrilac egg replacers are made from acid and sweet whey, byproducts left from manufacturing Greek yogurt and cream cheese. One obstacle that may limit its acceptance is that whey could pose a problem for people with dairy allergies or those who have a sensitivity to whey. This could cause some baking firms to pause or add the ingredient to their warning labels.
Some food experts claim that no one item can replace all the functions that real eggs provide.
"Besides for nutritive value, egg ingredients provide important functional properties to baked goods," Bill Gilbert, principal food technologist for Cargill, told Food Business News. "It’s impossible to replace eggs with any single ingredient and still provide similar nutrition and function."
Whether egg replacers are as good as the genuine product is uncertain and could be influenced by whether a person is vegan, has allergies or otherwise needs to avoid eggs. For baking companies, the test will be in whether egg replacers provide the same functions they're used to getting with real eggs and whether consumers still like the product following a recipe change.