Making A Better Egg

Author: Annie Cull
Source: Good Food Institute

Scrambled, fried, or hard-boiled, eggs are consumed in more than 90% of U.S. households and are served at three out of four foodservice establishments. Replacing eggs with plant-based egg alternatives represents an opportunity for food manufacturers to align their products with growing consumer interest in plant-based foods. GFI’s latest paper, “Plant-based egg alternatives: Optimizing for functional properties and applications,” provides a roadmap of the various alternatives that exist, the functional properties they provide, and the relative importance of these functionalities across various applications.

In general, plant-based foods are associated with positive health effects and sustainability. Consumers may seek egg-free options in particular to avoid cholesterol and egg allergies, as well as to support a sustainable and animal-friendly product, brand, or company. Due to their limited shelf life and inventory, food manufacturers face price volatility and supply chain stability concerns when it comes to eggs. This volatility is compounded by fluctuating seasonal demand for egg-containing food products, as well as outbreaks and contamination causing interruptions in supply. For example, to control the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) that affected U.S. egg-laying flocks from 2014 to 2015, 33 million egg-laying hens were killed. This ultimately caused egg prices to increase by 36%. At the same time, many food manufacturers are instituting self-imposed sustainability metrics as part of broader sustainability metrics. A switch from eggs to plant-based alternatives can help food manufacturers meet these goals. The global plant-based egg alternative ingredients market is projected to reach over $1.5B by the end of 2026. But the true size of the market opportunity for replacing eggs approaches $10 billion annually in the U.S. alone. There has been an expansion in egg consumption beyond the breakfast meal, which has been facilitated in part by restaurant offerings, such as all-day breakfast menus. Breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos, available at restaurants and supermarkets, are increasingly popular ways to consume eggs.