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Eggs are the latest category to see a surge in plant-based challengers

Like many others with egg allergies or sensitivities, Nicole Atchison knows that eggs are used in all kinds of products and recipes, not just scrambled eggs.

So food company executives set out to develop plant-based alternatives that would work just as well in crème brûlée as in breakfast burritos.

The result is AcreMade, the first consumer product from Puris, a major Minneapolis-based pea protein supplier.

Atchison, CEO of Puris Holdings and AcreMade, said: “At the end of the day, it has to offer flavor and appeal, and we feel we have a great product.

A powdered egg replacer made primarily of yellow peas has seen limited retail expansion since hitting the market this fall. We hope to unlock potential and boost the fledgling category.

“It’s going to let people know that plant-based foods are just delicious foods,” Atchison said.

Vegan egg alternatives arrived later than other plant-based categories, but grew rapidly from $3 million in 2018 to $39 million last year, according to Good Food Institute and SPINS sales data. Did. However, only a small percentage of Americans (about 2% of households) have reported buying plant-based eggs in 2021.

Atchison said: “Those who are plant-based, looking for more sustainable options, or have egg allergies.”

According to a report by Fact.MR, the market for vegan eggs could exceed $3 billion over the next decade, while chicken egg consumption is expected to continue to grow.

prairie protein

Like much of the food industry here, Minnesota has quietly become a hub for plant-based eggs.

JUST Egg, which accounts for the majority of plant-based egg sales, has had a manufacturing facility in the town of Appleton in western Minnesota since 2019.

Nearly all of the mung bean protein used in the company’s liquid egg substitutes is extracted at Appleton and sent to the facility where the final product is manufactured.

When announcing the facility purchase in 2019, Just Inc. CEO Josh Tetrick said, “Isolating protein from beans requires talent, proprietary processing, and a supportive community. At Appleton, we found all that and more.

Today, the factory employs 50 people, about 20% of the total workforce of the small California-based company. Just Inc. plans to add his 10,000-square-foot production space in Minnesota this year and continue to expand as demand grows.

Atchison said there is room and need for more players in the egg replacement market.

“I think their products are really good. I think they have multiple options,” she said. “Eggs are used in a variety of areas that need addressing, and AcreMade is working on just a handful of them.”

At a recent Naturally Minnesota event, AcreMade was highlighted by cheesecake instead of egg-centric dishes. The brand is also featured in Craft & Crew restaurants such as The Block in St. Louis Park.

eggs still crack

For the egg industry, a decade of rapid per capita egg consumption growth peaked in 2019 as the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues and avian flu disrupted production.

Egg prices are expected to remain high through 2023 as bird flu-devastated poultry flocks rebound. This creates an opportunity for brands such as JUST and AcreMade to appeal to consumers.

But the U.S. Department of Agriculture expects Americans to continue to eat more and more eggs in the next few years. estimated to be consumed.

“Despite record high prices, shell eggs continue to be a competitively priced protein, with the added advantage of offering consumers a wider range of dietary uses than other proteins.” There is no substitute for baking holiday treats.”

In fact, egg substitutes that mimic the binding function of eggs, rather than their look or taste, have been on the market for a long time and have become staples in vegan baking. As we did, we are trying to raise awareness of our products.

The egg industry battled hard against Tetrick’s vegan mayonnaise brand a few years ago, but so far it’s struggling to overcome bird flu and supply chains.

According to a 2021 article in the Journal of International Food & Agribusiness Marketing, “Despite egg manufacturers struggling to provide alternatives for those who don’t consume eggs, they believe that plant-based eggs are the We are skeptical that the nutrients and functions of eggs can be replicated.” “The egg industry does not see plant-based eggs as potential competitors for their products.”

Atchison said it doesn’t have to be direct competition.

“Is there a way for these products to coexist to create a more sustainable food system?” she said. “Egg producers are seeing the same thing we are talking about: we need to diversify our nutrient sources, reduce our carbon footprint and add resilience to food production.”

As overall plant-based sales start to plateau and the industry matures, Atchison said there is work to be done.

“Plant-based is about to work in a system that was built long ago around the food available at the time. We’re figuring out how to cope, and we’re offering great products that aren’t just what they’re used to eating.”