Cheaper, Ethical Vegan Alternatives Threaten Chicken Egg Industry’s Future

Cheaper, Ethical Vegan Alternatives Threaten Chicken Egg Industry's Future

Farming UK reports that following the launch of the “Nutrilac” whey-based egg replacer by Danish food cooperative Arla Foods, egg processor British Lion chairman Ian Jones said: “Egg replacers have never taken off on any significant scale because egg is a lot more versatile and almost always performs better.” Now, amid the rise of plant-based and vegan products that aim to make chicken eggs obsolete, members of the industry are crying out in protest.

A 2016 report released by research firm Future Market Insights shows that the global egg alternative market is set to grow to $1.5 million by 2026, driven by rising egg prices and increased consumer awareness surrounding the health risks that come with eating eggs.

Last year during the annual International Egg Commission conference in Warsaw, Poland, Arla Foods senior global creations manager Katherine Bryar warned the industry experts about the impending threat of egg alternatives that could disrupt traditional production. Using Just Mayo, a vegan mayonnaise created by California-based food company JUST, as an example, Bryar claimed that emerging brands would leverage facts in order to gain the competitive edge over eggs, such as the environmental sustainability of vegan products, which she said the egg industry should be “very concerned” about.

Bryar went on to explain that the egg industry should focus its efforts on convincing consumers that eggs are a “natural” product, an angle likely drawn from the emerging clean-label, natural food trend identified by several experts earlier this year.

“An egg is an entirely natural product and it is healthy. Compare that to the alternative, which is an industrialized, manufactured product with fewer nutrients and less protein. Some people want a natural ingredient. That is what we offer at Arla with milk. That is what eggs offer,”  Bryar said. Her statements are contrary to several health studies that state that regular egg consumption can increase one’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.

Since Bryar’s statement, Arla has backtracked on its statement, sparked by outbreaks of avian flu across the US, Europe, Mexico, and Asia. The brand now encourages bakers to use its whey-based egg replacer, likely made from byproducts of the dairy company’s milk production. Jones still insists that there is no replacing traditional eggs.

Los Angeles-based vegan food company Follow Your Heart manufactures the VeganEgg, a product that can replace eggs in traditional applications such as baking, scrambles, and more. Ovaprax, a British maize-based egg replacer, shares similar versatility. And for those seeking an egg alternative that can match the protein content of traditional eggs, the mung-bean based Just Egg from JUST is a vegan liquid egg that scrambles like the real thing.