Food manufacturers are increasingly exploring plant-based alternatives to eggs and egg ingredients, according to Food Business News. That's because companies want to trim costs and avoid volatile prices, salmonella outbreaks and egg recalls — and also respond to consumer demand for plant-based, vegan or dairy-free products.
Food makers also prefer single-ingredient options to eggs and egg ingredients so they can maintain a cleaner and shorter product label, the site noted. Many commercial egg replacers are blends, which makes for a longer ingredient statement, Jon Stratford, sales and marketing manager for Iowa-based Natural Products, told Food Business News.
Plant-based egg and egg ingredient alternatives include chickpea flour and the fibrous material left over from citrus juicing, Food Business News reported. Others are branded products made from whey protein and blends of emulsifiers and other ingredients.
Baked goods manufacturers and those who make sauces and dressings seem like ideal customers for this type of dairy-free egg alternative, but there may be other applications as well. Mainstream companies wanting to avoid the problems posed by real eggs and egg ingredients are looking into such substitutes for a variety of reasons, including to appeal to consumers looking for better-for-you and free-from products. Some of them may be allergic to eggs, which is one of the Food and Drug Administration's eight major allergens whose presence must be labeled.
Makers of allergy-friendly products are tapping into a lucrative market as health and wellness trends and the free-from movement continue to grow. According to Mordor Intelligence, the global free-from food market is projected to have a compound annual growth rate of 4.84% through 2023. Fans of plant-based, vegan and dairy-free ingredients may also be interested in egg-free baked goods, condiments and other products as long as the flavor, mouthfeel and other expected qualities are still there.
This interest is reflected in the launch of JUST's egg substitute JUST Egg. The San Francisco-based manufacturer, which also makes vegan dressings, spreads and desserts, developed the product from mung bean protein isolate. The product, which is free of cholesterol, is now available at retail and can be used to cook an egg-like scramble or as an egg-substitute in baked goods.
The success of this product — which will also be distributed in Europe by Italy-based Eurovo, the continent's leader in producing packaged, dried and pasteurized eggs — could spur similar plant-based innovation in the egg-based ingredient space.
A growing number of consumers equate plant-based products with clean and healthy eating, a shift in consumption that could broaden the market for animal-free ingredient alternatives. According to HealthFocus data, 60% of consumers claim to be cutting back on meat-based products, and 55% say the change is permanent. These ingredients could also help manufacturers capture younger demographics, which have become increasingly concerned with the welfare of laying hens.