Whether you saw them on a supermarket shelf or turned into scrambled eggs on your Instagram feed, vegan eggs in powder or liquid form are starting to show up on our kitchen tables, bearing a remarking resemblance to cooked chicken eggs. If you would like to know about this food phenomenon, then keep on reading; we’ll break it down for you (pun intended).
The vegan food market reached a value of about $14.2 billion in 2018. In 2020 its value rose to $15.4 billion. By 2026 it is expected to grow even more, reaching a value of approximately USD 26.1 billion, growing at a CAGR of 9% in the 2021-2026 forecast period. This impressive growth results from the increasing demand for plant-based alternatives to animal products such as meat, egg, and dairy products across several food categories and applications, caused by the rising awareness of food allergies and sustainability, and the increasing popularity of vegan food as a whole. By the end of 2026, projections predict that the global plant-based egg alternative ingredients market will reach over $1.5 billion, achieving a 5.8% growth from 2016 to 2026.
Egg replacements as a whole come in a variety of compositions and are made to cater to a wide range of applications that go from bakery and confectionary to mayonnaise and other sauces. The global egg replacement ingredients market is expected to reach $1.1 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 6% from 2018 to 2023. We can trace the plant-based egg market’s growth back to the same factors that have been causing the growth of the entire vegan food market, plus others linked to eggs’ specific characteristics. There are concerns about food safety and health among the consumer-driven ones, aside from the growing interest in plant-based diets. Due to their highly perishable nature and short shelf life, eggs can be hard to handle for food manufactures. Not to mention that as food allergens, they need to be segregated from other products to prevent cross-contact, potentially complicating production scheduling and causing production delays.
Manufacturers and individuals utilize eggs in a variety of ways due to their composition and molecular properties. They are emulsifiers that can bind simultaneously to water and oil, stabilizing oil and water mixtures like mayonnaise and keeping them from separating. Eggs also retain moisture, bind ingredients together thanks to their coagulation and gelation properties, and can be used to clarify liquids like broth and wine. Plant-based egg alternatives, including individual components and ingredient blends, can provide the same qualities while having fewer downsides.
Plant-based egg alternative ingredient blends and stand-alone egg replacers available for retail sale are made of various ingredients, including whole algal flour, whole algal protein, modified cellulose, cellulose, gellan gum, calcium lactate, nutritional yeast black salt, potato starch, tapioca flour and many more. Some of them come in liquid form and require refrigeration; others instead come in powder form.
Several food companies are producing egg replacements all over the world. Here we have gathered up some of the most influential ones.
Run by CEO Liron Nimrodi, Israeli start-up Zero Egg developed an all-purpose plant-based egg alternative called “EGG Basics”. It’s made with soy protein isolate, peaflour, and cellulose fibres. This replacement is formulated to be utilized to prepare scrambles, omelettes, frittatas, quiches, egg bites, cookies, sauces. It has a 1-year shelf-life and a high yield, equivalent to 86 eggs per pound. According to the Life Cycle Assessment by Sher consulting & training ltd, Zero Egg’s production requires 93% less water and 92% less land than conventional eggs while emitting 59% fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Zero egg is available in the United States, Israel, the EU, and the United Kingdom to foodservice operators and food manufacturers.
The formula behind Eat Just, Inc.’s Just Egg, a liquid egg replaced, took five years of experiments. Still, in the end, they found the ingredient they were looking for: mung bean, a protein-rich 4,500 years old legume vastly unutilized outside of Asia. Like fellow Californian vegan food enterprise Beyond meat, the San Francisco-based food company employs this legume as a form of plant-based protein. The result is a Non-GMO, cholesterol-free egg replacement that requires 98% less water has a 93% smaller carbon footprint, and uses 86% less land than conventional animal sources.
Follow Your Heart, the Southern California food company that produces Vegenaise, also makes VeganEgg™ a gluten-free egg replacer with Organic Soymilk Powder from Soybeans, modified cellulose, and gellan gum
Further reading about plant-based food find it here.
+ Words: Roberta Fabbrocino
Roberta Fabbrocino is an entrepreneur and a sustainability advocate. She is the co-founder of @mosclothingsubscription, an online personal styling service that helps you transition to slow fashion and to build a high quality, sustainable wardrobe.