I had heard of JUST Egg, the plant-based egg product, several years ago, but hadn’t ever eaten it. Recently, there was a news announcement online about the product, and it served as a reminder to seek it out. Fortunately, a local grocery store in Virginia (Publix) carried the 12-ounce liquid egg replacer and I bought it for $6.99.
The liquid food is yellow in color and uses mung beans as a protein source. It’s easily poured into a frying pan and cooked quickly into a soft food resembling scrambled chicken eggs. The process is straightforward and not labor-intensive. How does it taste? Consuming it, one marvels slightly at how similar the taste is to a chicken egg scramble, but with milder flavors.
CleanTechnica is obviously a clean energy, sustainable transportation, and climate change news site, so putting together a post on food might seem out of place. Food production and consumption are directly tied to climate change because large-scale industrial agriculture is a primary source of greenhouse gases. As consumers, we all know our energy, transportation and food choices have consequences. Many readers of CleanTechnica do want to reduce their carbon footprints. So, along with getting a home solar power system, and/or purchasing a hybrid or all-electric vehicle, biking, and riding public transportation, some of us want to reduce or even eliminate the consumption of animal-based foods as well.
Others aren’t particularly concerned or informed. They may be the ones that drive Cadillac Escalades to grocery stores to purchase sirloin steaks, lamb, chicken eggs, and sausages with no awareness of how much the management of cows, lambs, chickens, and pigs is contributing to climate change.
At the same time, the general awareness of plant-based foods and their benefits appears to be growing steadily. Beyond Meat had a very strong IPO, one that many folks would never have expected. Five years ago, it might have seemed an almost entirely ludicrous scenario for Burger King to serve a plant-based burger.
Chicken eggs are obviously a very commonly consumed animal food. According to US Egg Producers, US table egg production was over 95 billion eggs in 2018, and there were 328 million commercial hens. Like all animal food products, there is a cost beyond dollars and cents.
A chicken egg research study conducted in Spain found that, “The scientists obtained a carbon footprint per dozen eggs of 2.7 kg of CO2 equivalent, ‘a value similar to other basic foods of animal origin such as milk and much lower than that of veal, pork or lamb.'”
Of course, there are many other issues related to chicken egg production, but this post is mostly about the egg replacement product. (JUST Egg has some sustainability metrics on its website if you are interested.)
Andrew Noyes, Head of Global Communications at Eat JUST, Inc., answered some questions about JUST Egg for CleanTechnica.
How much are you cutting the price of the liquid plant-based product?
We’re targeting a 35% case cost reduction across retail and foodservice JUST Egg, which for retail (12 oz. bottle) consumers would mean $4.99 suggested retail price a bottle, down from $7.99. The new folded JUST Egg will also be $4.99 (SRP). We’re always working to increase efficiencies and decrease cost.
Who is the intended target audience for the folded product?
The new folded JUST Egg is a product for anyone to enjoy, any time of day. With a growing number of consumers seeking healthier, protein-rich, low sugar meal options that are also convenient to heat and eat, we believe this product will appeal to a range of customers. Interest in a product like this transcends breakfast. In fact, a recent survey of nearly 1,000 consumers revealed that 50% would use the fold-over as a general sandwich ingredient and 40% would add it to other dishes like salads or fried rice. While nearly 100% of respondents said they would eat the product for breakfast, 72% said they would select it for lunch and 66% said they would eat it for dinner.
Is the folded egg product available now, or if not, when will it be and where?
The folded JUST Egg will begin rolling out in April in the freezer section of Whole Foods Markets; select Albertsons Safeway stores; Gelson’s Markets in Southern California; Stop & Shop in the Northeast, Kings Food Markets in the New York metro area and Giant Martin’s in the Mid-Atlantic, with more to come. In all, it will be sold in approximately 5,000 stores at launch and will be available for restaurants and other foodservice destinations from major distributors.
Are JUST Egg products available in any diners, cafes, or restaurants?
As in retail, JUST Egg is quickly becoming available in cities and towns across the country on menus of coffee shops, cafes, favorite brunch spots and even fine dining restaurants. In addition, people are enjoying the product at hotels, resorts, amusement parks, college campuses, hospitals and corporate cafeterias. A few popular foodservice partners include Bareburger, Silver Diner, Next Level Burger, Gregorys Coffee and Saxbys.
How many bottles of the original JUST Egg product have you sold so far?
While we have not disclosed the number of bottles sold, 2019 was our first full year of distribution and, to date, the company has sold the equivalent of more than 20 million eggs — all made entirely from plants.
Would you ever consider rolling out any products that would be complementary to JUST Egg like JUST Bacon or JUST Sausage in plant-based versions?
We’re focused on making JUST Egg even more delicious, more functional and more accessible to millions of consumers in 2020 and beyond. But our mission doesn’t stop at making incredible plant-based products. We’re utilizing our team’s expertise and cutting-edge technology to lead the nascent but fast-growing cultured meat industry. You can learn more about how companies like ours are creating real meat made from cells instead of slaughtered animals here and on Alliance for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Innovation website.
I’ve used the original product and was impressed by how egg-like it is in terms of scrambling. How long did it take in terms of testing to achieve that similarity?
It took our team of world-class scientists, researchers, and Michelin starred chefs more than five years to find the ideal plant protein, develop the product and introduce it to retailers and foodservice channels in the US. We’re always working to make JUST Egg better, which is why a new version of the liquid product is expected to be released later this year. Consumers who already love the current version will find the forthcoming formulation cleaner, creamier and more egg-like than many chicken eggs.
Is your company going through a growth phase currently?
Yes. Not only are we expanding in the US, we have sales in China, Hong Kong, and Singapore and hope to introduce JUST Egg in several European countries soon.