Clear label, diet, and assembly ‘fanatical’ demand


Restoring the functionality of eggs from plant-based ingredients is not an easy task. Not only should an egg substitute thicken, bind, and rise, but consumers also expect it to look and taste like its chicken counterpart.

Since eggs are powerhouses for vitamins, minerals and protein, diet is also a key factor. And as more consumers scrutinize the fine print, manufacturers are also under pressure to do all of this with a short list of “clean” ingredients.

How do plant-based liquid egg innovators work to meet these needs? We hear from the Indian start-up EVO Foods and the British pioneer CRACKD to find out.

“Massive Opportunity” for Chicken Free Eggs.

The global egg replacement market is on an upward trend. Research and Markets predicts the sector will hit $ 1.15 billion by 2022 as the preference for plant-based natural ingredients grows, as does the growing vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian population.

Although it is a high growth area, there are few players at the moment. Perhaps best known is the US-based scrambled egg alternative from JUST. Israeli start-up Zero Egg is another company that makes plant-based egg substitutes.

However, when others take advantage of the market’s growth potential, new faces emerge. EVO Foods from Mumbai, for example, entered the room in 2019. The startup’s mission is to disrupt the $ 200 billion egg industry with its plant-based liquid egg alternative.

In India, eggs are kind of a gray area when it comes to nutrition, said Kartik Dixit, CEO of EVO Foods, at ProVeg International’s New Food Conference 2021.

The country has the world’s largest vegetarian population (28%), some consuming eggs that are “hidden” in cooked or baked products. Others avoid eggs altogether. In any case, Dixit found that when it comes to eggs, Indians are far less critical than dairy or meat.

“We realized that egg is the right way to introduce the clean protein concept to the Indian market,” he told the audience.

It took EVO about 18 months to develop its liquid egg alternative, which is made from a mixture of mung beans, chickpeas and peas.

Image source: CRACKD

In the UK, CRACKD began its development process over four years ago when its founders saw a “massive opportunity” for vegan egg substitutes, General Manager Rik Roberts explained at the New Food Conference.

The result is a plant-based liquid egg that is primarily intended for baking. Having achieved a desirable taste and texture in British classic Yorkshire pudding, CRACKD successfully tested its product in cakes, quiches, omelets, frittatas and puddings. The product was launched on the UK market in November 2020.

Challenges in functionality and texture.

From a functional point of view, eggs are incredibly versatile. They can be used for aerating, binding, coagulating, coloring, emulsifying, flavoring, foaming, washing and whipping.

While it is relatively easy to achieve any of these functions with herbal ingredients, the biggest challenge is achieving multiple functions, explained Roberts of CRACKD. “It’s the versatility of it,” he explained.

fried DronGGettyImages / DronG

CRACKD describes their product as “the egg without an egg,” but it doesn’t work exactly like an egg, he continued. For example, if consumers replace traditional egg in a sponge cake with CRACKD’s product, they may have greater success cooking the cake at a slightly lower temperature and 10 to 15 minutes longer. “The gums we use don’t work the same as an egg.”

For this reason, the start-up suggests that consumers first use their online recipes before experimenting with their own. “Then when you do freestyling, you have a better idea [of how it works]”, He said.

The hardest egg quality plant-based EVO can mimic is their texture. First iterations were either “pasty” or “too rigid,” recalled Dixit. “The challenge is basically getting the liquid right and then when the phase changes to a solid product, making sure the texture is as good as an egg. I think it’s a fundamental challenge, ”he told the online audience.

“How can we shorten the list of ingredients?”.

Clean label is still one of the biggest trends in food. Given the recent backlash against “ultra-processed” vegan meat alternatives, the plant-based egg room is no different.

For today’s consumers, “clean” ingredient lists are less about what is on offer and more about what is not: preservatives, genetically modified ingredients or unspeakable additives.

CRACKD has worked to “shrink” its ingredient list to keep it as small as possible. The liquid egg alternative currently contains 13 ingredients: water, pea protein, thickener, gelling agent, firming agent, nutritional yeast, vitamin B12, black salt, acid, acidity regulator, color, vitamins (D & B12), stabilizers, and dextrose. It is free from artificial colors and flavors.

It took the start-up four and a half years to create an ingredient list that works. While it could simplify the list to reduce the number, the general manager said he would be reluctant to do so.

“Right now we have things like vitamins D and B12, we could take these out and reduce the ingredient list, we could take out the black salt … but you would get a less tasty product. We could take out the beta carotene, which comes from natural sources, and remove the color.

“But I think the consumer is likely happy to accept a certain amount of ingredients as long as those ingredients a) serve a purpose, b) enhance the product … and c) are all natural and vegan sources.”

From a nutritional point of view, one large egg (50 g) contains 70 kcal, contains 4.5 g fat, 215 mg cholesterol, 65 mg sodium, no carbohydrates and 6 g protein.

Conversely, 100 g of liquid CRACKD egg have 23 kcal, less than 0.5 g of fat. 2.97 g carbohydrates (of which 0.13 g sugar), 2.23 g protein and 0.23 g salt.

“It’s not exactly the same as an egg, but it’s a really good mimicry of the egg’s performance while fortified with vitamins that we know the plant community sometimes struggles to get into on their diet,” explained Roberts.

An added benefit is that swapping out traditional egg for the alternative of CRACKD in recipes can help reduce the amount of fat and sugar needed in the final product, he added.

Gnocchi finaleImage source: CRACKD

EVO’s Liquid Egg campaigns for ingredients that are regularly consumed across India: mung beans, chickpeas and peas. Using familiar ingredients builds consumer confidence in the product, suggested Dixit.

Water is also the main component of the EVO formulation. After that, proteins, binders and emulsifiers are used at the start. The “entire industry” is facing the same challenge, he explained: “How can we keep the list of ingredients shorter?” “I think a lot of meat alternative [brands] I recently faced this test of the endless list of ingredients they have. “

EVO’s product contains preservatives that improve functionality and shelf life. While this decision was a “tough choice”, Dixit believes the Indian market is less concerned about such ingredients than other countries.

In terms of nutritional profile, the protein content of EVO is 12 g per 100 g of product. “Basically, it’s almost as close to an egg as you can get it.”

Formulated with a variety of plant-based proteins, EVO’s range offers a “better amino acid profile” than eggs, and its product is also fortified with vitamins (D, B12 and A). “As you can see, it’s a better egg with no cholesterol.”

Satisfying fanatical demand.

With the food service largely closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, CRACKD has brought its product to retail outlets. Starting with vegan online retailer TheVegankind, its liquid egg substitute has since found offers at premium retailers Marks & Spencer, Whole Foods Market and Selfridges.

The start-up also has plans to add “a number of the UK’s four largest retailers,” the general manager announced.

Regarding demand for the product in the UK, Roberts said it was “fanatical”. In the future, the company is hoping for greater retail involvement in this category. “There are hundreds of dairy alternatives, there are hundreds of plant-based cheeses and plant-based chocolates, but there are very few in the vegan egg field. And there are no liquid vegan eggs in the UK. “

The company looks forward to exploring other sales channels such as restaurants, wholesalers and manufacturers. “Although we started in retail, I can see that the food service will grow a lot this year.

“We also deal with production. [which means] We use our product as an ingredient – and also as a retail product. “

Baked eggs Tatiana SviridovaGettyImages / Tatiana Sviridova

One of the co-founders of EVO has a background in the hospitality industry, so the start-up will initially target food service. Given that EVO’s alternative to liquid eggs also requires refrigeration, the foodservice was an obvious first port of call, suggested the CEO, adding that India’s retail infrastructure is not “as good as other countries”.

Ultimately, however, the start-up aims to create a product that “comes as close as possible to normal eggs”. “If that means consumers are demanding a shelf-stable egg … you will see stable shelf-life at some point in the future.” .