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Deep Dive: Egg beaters

April 26, 2023

Louise Davis asks the pioneers developing alternative egg products how they are aiming to crack the market

One of the most diverse parts of the proteins landscape, the alt eggs market is a fascinating sector that is globally significant. As well as the usual geographical hotspots for innovation in the field (the USA, Israel, Singapore), alt eggs are also proving big business in regions such as India, Finland and, well, almost any other place you can think of, too.

It’s not surprising that everyone wants a piece of the action when you consider how essential eggs are as an ingredient within other products. Used widely in baked goods, the protein in eggs helps bind other ingredients together, while in many other applications, the role of egg yolks as emulsifiers is critical.

Bang for your protein buck

As products in their own right, whole eggs are hugely popular among great swathes of the population who appreciate the nutritional benefits of these little protein powerhouses. And until recently, eggs were also cheap, offering a greater bang for your buck than many other sources of protein.

The worldwide demand for both egg products as ingredients and whole eggs – coupled with the high prices and availability issues of their traditional counterparts – is fostering a huge spirit of innovation in the alt eggs domain. Many players are producing plant-based eggs – some more successfully than others, it must be said. Others are focusing solely on alt egg products as ingredients and going after the lucrative food-service market, while others still are even producing cell ag-based egg ingredients for use in skincare (for instance, Japan’s Integriculture and its intriguing Cellament product).

Investor interest

And the companies working on biotech-produced alt egg products are making commercial progress at a rate many of their peers who are working on cell ag meats can only dream of. On that note, it’s worth pointing out that this is a well-funded area, too – it appears that investors find the alt eggs market as compelling as consumers.

It’s taken a while – and a few bumps in the road in the shape of some previous generations of technically inferior products – to get here. And challenges certainly do remain; nobody is yet claiming to be able to produce a crackable alt egg that’s biodenticial to a hen’s egg. But the recent rapid technical progress, commercial success, and rising consumer adoption of such products does raise the question of

‘What’s next for alt egg products?’ Over to our eggs-perts…


To the lay person, ‘How do you make eggs out of potatoes?’ probably sounds like the start of a joke. But it’s a question the two founders of Israel-headquartered PoLoPo, Dr Raya Liberman-Aloni and Dr Maya Sapir-Mir, are answering through the use of biotech.

“We both have PhDs in plant sciences and we specialize in plant metabolic engineering with an emphasis on protein expression and functionality,” explains Liberman-Aloni, Co-founder & CTO. “Having said that, when the precision fermentation companies began blooming, we immediately thought that plants could also be used as green protein factories.

“That’s what we have been doing for years – controlling protein expression patterns and directing them to be expressed at the right tissue and organ and at the right time,” she says. “When we discussed the idea initially, the concept revolved around protein-rich potatoes for developing countries. Meanwhile, we learned more about the environmental cost of animal-based protein production and set up a goal to produce proteins, identical to the animal-based ones, only with plants.”

Fast-forward a couple of years and the two founders have begun work to prove their theory by producing ovalbumin from potatoes. But why potatoes? “They are great candidates to be used as protein factories for several reasons,” Liberman-Aloni notes. “The potato is an edible plant, a very resilient one that grows almost all over the world and in various climates and it has relatively low growth costs. From a biological perspective, they have a very large and soluble sink organ, naturally accumulating mostly starch. Also, the processing technologies involved in potatoes are well known.”

When the precision fermentation companies began blooming, we immediately thought that plants could also be used as green protein factories

But are there other plants that could also be suitable vehicles to produce the ovalbumin? “There are but some have disadvantages compared with potatoes,” Liberman-Aloni adds. “If I had to, I would probably begin with grains or legumes.”

The company name, PoLoPo, comes from a Hebrew phrase that translates as ‘here and not here’. Liberman-Aloni says it broadly means “a protein that’s here but is not originally from here”, adding that “the ‘PoLoPo’ letters also signify the words protein, potato and plant”.

But how long will it be until egg products from potatoes are ‘here’, as in on the market? “Well, we work with plants and plant R&D is a long process,” Liberman-Aloni admits, before stressing the R&D stage is where work will remain for a couple of years yet. “We are currently working on metabolic engineering of potato plants, to make them produce and accumulate high amounts of protein,” she reveals. “This will be a huge milestone for PoLoPo that will bring us closer to commercialization. The major hurdles are regulatory. As the plants are GMO, we are going to need approval to both grow the plants and to commercialize the final product, which is going to be GRAS and non-GMO.”

Eggs-it strategy

PoLoPo, which closed a US$1.75 million funding round in mid-March, plans to sell its ovalbumin protein ingredient to the food industry. “Our scaling-up will include growing more potatoes and intensive use of the processing facilities,” Liberman-Aloni says. “The demand for powdered egg protein in food is rising and we plan on delivering a portion, not replacing the entire industry. A big advantage we have is that our product will be identical to ovalbumin from eggs, so no food technology adjustments are required.”

It’s a little early in the process to discuss price parity, although this turns out to be something the founders have already considered. “It will compete against dried/powdered egg protein but not against eggs (which are quite cheap), and we’re aiming toward reaching price parity with egg protein powders.”

And in terms of industry feedback, Liberman-Aloni reports a high number of enquiries. “Being just in the middle between agritech and food-tech, lots of people from both industries are showing interest in our concept of turning potatoes into protein factories. Specifically, food industry manufacturers really want to replace egg protein for commercial and environmental reasons, and they are eagerly awaiting our samples.”


Yet another successful spinout from Finland’s VTT, Onego Bio was founded in 2022 by Maija Itkonen (CEO) and Chris Landowski (CTO), with the aim of producing egg protein products via precision fermentation.

“I spent almost 15 years at VTT developing protein production platforms prior to co-founding Onego Bio,” recalls Landowski. “Around 2016, research into precision fermentation for food ingredients was launched when the Industrial Biotechnology and Food Research areas were merged. The team I was leading started producing egg and milk proteins using the Trichoderma production system and tested the protein for food applications.”

Onego Bio was created to commercialize that breakthrough. “Precision fermentation is the newest chapter in the history of making food with microbes,” Landowski says. “Egg white is also the smart starting point for next-level proteins. As a result of functional properties such as gelling, foaming, binding and emulsifying, egg protein is difficult to replace with alternative ingredients. In many applications, egg is the last frontier before entirely animal-free end products can be manufactured.”

Chris Landowski, CTO of Onego Bio

Landowski believes that Onego Bio’s animal-free egg white, Bioalbumen, will make it possible to manufacture “the same delicious foods entirely animal-free and with a significant positive impact on planetary, human, and animal health”.

The two founders describe their bioreactor as a “next-generation hen house” and Landowski offers a succinct overview of how it works. “It is based on harnessing the microorganism Trichoderma reesei for egg protein production, with the help of water, sugar, and certain minerals. The outcome is Bioalbumen powder, bioidentical protein to ovalbumin but made without animals.

We aim to provide bioidentical egg protein with price parity, stable production, and around 90% lower environmental impact compared with egg protein from chickens

“Precision fermentation has been used for decades already for producing food additives such as various enzymes and rennet, as well as for medical products.”

Detailing further, Landowski adds, “Stability of the process and product is essential and the uniqueness in our technology revolves around efficiency and productivity. Trichoderma reesei is superior in transforming carbohydrates to protein as it’s a protein producer by nature. Production of egg protein from this fungal host is extremely efficient and cost effective.”

Great eggs-pectations

Describing the interest in this protein as “amazing”, Landowski reports great progress in terms of commercializing the production of Bioalbumen. “We’re currently preparing the data and optimizing the process for FDA approval, arranging contract manufacturing and our own factory plans, starting collaborations with commercial partners and, of course, conducting delicious food application tests,” he reveals. “Regulatory approval is a critical step in our plans to bring our protein to the market. We are positive and confident because it is a known protein made with a known process. It’s just the combination – product plus process – that is new. There are existing commercial products made with similar technology and we are already partnering with Perfect Day, which has the approval.”

Onego Bio has naturally given some thought to the issue of producing sufficient amounts of product. “We are already in discussions with major food manufacturers around the world,” Landowski notes. “Egg is the world’s most functional protein and clearly difficult to replace with alternative products. We’re not facing any technical challenges in scaling, but a food system transformation is needed, and new production capacity and infrastructure required as we are doing something that has never been performed at scale for our particular product. A big strength, though, is using a well-known system with proven performance as Trichoderma has been used in the industrial enzyme business for decades to produce large product volumes at very low costs – we’re just changing the protein that is produced.”

And when it comes to price parity, Landowski is confident here, too. “We aim to provide bioidentical egg protein with price parity, stable production, and around 90% lower environmental impact compared to egg protein from chickens.”


“It was clear to me early in my career that our food system was broken, with factors such as geopolitical strife, animal-borne illnesses including avian flu, and the climate crisis accelerating challenges,” recalls Arturo Elizondo, CEO of The EVERY Company. “Looking ahead, global population pressures, income growth and urbanization will only increase demand for protein, while the effects of the climate crisis will constrain supply.”

Inspired to be part of the solution after time spent working at the USDA, Elizondo bought a one-way ticket to San Francisco to look into starting an alternative proteins company that could help replace industrial animal agriculture. “I met my co-founder, Dave Anchel, a molecular biologist, who had the idea of making ‘eggs without chickens’ at one of the first-ever food-tech conferences back in 2014 alongside our other co-founder, Isha Datar. It became clear that precision fermentation offered an incredible alternative. There was white space in the egg market, so with my co-founders, I started Clara Foods – since rebranded to The EVERY Company – to create nature-identical animal proteins using fermentation, starting with eggs.”

Arturo Elizondo, CEO, The EVERY Company

What came first?

After seven years of R&D, the firm released the world’s first animal-free pepsin, followed by the world’s first animal-free egg proteins: the highly functional, ‘nearly invisible’ EVERY Protein and EVERY EggWhite.

“We’ve come a long way from that initial idea,” Elizondo reflects. “We’ve commercialized three products, are scaling up with Anheuser-Busch InBev, and have the backing of influential public figures such as Anne Hathaway. It feels like the better food future we all deserve is truly within reach.”

EVERY is using bioreactors to produce pure egg proteins that, Elizondo says, “equal the texture, taste and culinary functionality” of animal-derived counterparts – ensuring the “highest-quality” and “most consistent proteins” every time. “Similar to making rennet for cheese, we produce animal-free proteins with precision fermentation.

Our precision fermentation technology allows us to produce very pure egg proteins that equal the texture, taste, and culinary functionality of animal-derived counterparts

“The benefits are manifold,” Elizondo maintains. “Precision fermentation allows us to unlock trace proteins that would be cost-prohibitive to extract in nature. Each step of our process is vetted and optimized for high-quality, food-safe, scalable production. This translates to a de-risked supply chain offering food safety, traceability, and stability.”

And customers are thoroughly embracing EVERY products – the firm has already demonstrated versatility across a range of applications, including cold-pressed juice, baked goods such as macarons, and even a protein-boosted hard juice. It is currently scaling up in partnership with AB InBev, and in 2022 achieved a major step-up to large-scale fermentation through this strategic alliance. “We are laser-focused on scaling and deploying our world-first proteins to bring the next-gen foods consumers want to market as quickly as possible,” Elizondo comments. “Our B2B approach allows us to work with the existing infrastructure of global food businesses to build better products from within. It’s incredibly efficient. This approach means we don’t need to create new markets. We simply need to remove eggs from existing supply chains – so it can happen quickly.

“Yet to do this, we need public-private partnerships that can help grow capacity and streamline production. I wrote about this ahead of COP27, where I spoke about the need for greater support from the policy realm and continued targeted investment to allow for accelerated momentum.”

Part of scaling up involves price parity and Elizondo is confidently optimistic on this front. “With scale, we will achieve – and surpass – price parity with traditional eggs and conventional egg products that brands have used to create the widely available products we know and love today. Looking at the market, eggs show up in both obvious and less-obvious places – they’re ubiquitous. Long-term, nature-equivalent egg products such as ours will solve hundreds of problems for food and beverage brands.”


Following the supply chain disruption to traditional eggs caused by avian flu, in January 2023 Eat Just placed adverts stating ‘Plants don’t get the flu’ outside US grocery stores to remind consumers that its Just Egg product was currently well stocked. Josh Tetrick, CEO of Eat Just, observes that his product is also coming for traditional eggs in terms of price as well as availability. “During the US avian flu outbreak this winter, when conventional eggs were hard to find and expensive if consumers could find them, Just Egg has been widely available and priced competitively, in some instances reaching price parity with chicken eggs,” Tetrick reports.

“Our goal remains for Just Egg to be cheaper than chicken eggs – not just during times of turbulence in the egg aisle – and we’re taking strides every day to achieve that mission.”

Josh Tetrick, CEO, Just Eat

Just Egg is made from mung beans, which Tetrick says “happen to be one of the most sustainable plants on earth”, using “fewer resources to grow and cultivate” than chicken eggs. “We’ve now sold the plant-based equivalent of more than 300 million eggs and every one of those scrambles, omelettes, and quiches has an impact. By making Just Egg from plants, we’ve saved more than 52 million kilograms of carbon emissions, 10.9 billion gallons of water, and 16,135 acres of land.

“Just Egg is better for humans, too,” Tetrick points out. “It has 67% less saturated fat and a similar amount of protein as a chicken egg. It’s free of cholesterol and contains good-for-you polyunsaturated fat.”  

Creating a compelling plant-based analog for chicken eggs isn’t easy, which is why more companies haven’t been able to ‘crack’ the code

Impressive stats, but why did Tetrick decide to go down the plant-based path rather than other approaches such as cell ag? “Eggs happen to be more optimal from a tech standpoint – if you’re being agnostic about technology. We think plant-based egg; cultivated meat,” he says. (Eat Just also happens to be active in the cultivated meat sector, too).

Being plant-based certainly enabled the firm to commercialize its product without having to clear some of the hurdles facing other alt egg products. “Prior to entering the market in the USA, our mung bean protein isolate was reviewed by the FDA, and we received a ‘No Questions’ letter, meaning there were no concerns around safety, and it is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS),” Tetrick says. “The protein is subject to similar regulatory approvals in other countries where it is considered novel.”

Tetrick says that as soon as the first version launched in the USA (in 2019), the team immediately began working on making the product better. “Better for us means tastier, more functional, and more sustainable, among other attributes,” he details. The fourth version is currently on sale, with the fifth in development.

Eggs-acting requirements

Despite this rapid progress, Tetrick does observe that “creating a compelling plant-based analog for chicken eggs isn’t easy, which is why more companies haven’t been able to ‘crack’ the code”. So, how does his technology work? “We harvest the mung bean, extract the protein, mix it with water, oil, etc. It can take the form of a pourable product (great for scrambles, omelettes, frittatas, baking), our toaster-ready folded product and other formats. Our proprietary technology platform spans discovery/machine learning, protein separation and formulation, and we have multiple patents tied to that IP.

“We can use this protein to make branded ingredients ourselves or work with downstream partners so that they can make Just Egg products in their markets. One example is South Korea, where we’ve partnered with SPC Samlip to launch plant-based egg products in retail and food-service channels.”


Creating a huge stir in the USA and perfectly representing the next-generation vegan products landscape is WunderEggs, ready-to-eat, plant-based boiled eggs from the food-tech company, Crafty Counter.

With a product that looks and tastes more like its traditional counterpart than ever before, has CEO, Hema Reddy, finally cracked the code to producing the perfect plant-based egg? Her legions of followers on social media certainly think so – a clearly delighted Reddy spends a lot of her time delightedly reposting feedback from genuine consumers.

It’s no wonder she is so proud of the product she’s managed to produce: her business is very much personal, as Reddy explains. “What motivated me to create a plant-based egg product was when my family and I switched to a plant-based lifestyle, we missed the quintessential breakfast of choice: eggs. I saw that there were just not enough choices when it came to plant-based eggs, and so that started a journey of research and product development to fill that gap in a consumer’s daily lifestyle.”

It took us three years to develop the product, the machinery, and the process; the commercialization has been a very difficult process

Despite going down the plant-based route – and therefore not having to jump through so many legal hoops as biotech products – Reddy reports that commercializing WunderEgg was not as plain-sailing as one might imagine. “WunderEggs are made with simple wholefood ingredients, using a highly complex proprietary process. It took us three years to develop the product, the machinery, and the process. The commercialization has been a very difficult process,” she reveals.

Perfectly timed eggs

That aside, Reddy believes her product has hit the market at the ideal time. “Plant-based eggs are a nascent, hungry-for-innovation category that are on the cusp of seeing explosive growth. At this time, in the USA, there are no other plant-based hard-boiled eggs on the market.”

Reddy also predicts no trouble with scaling up the technology required to produce her largely cashew-based eggs. “We have a custom-designed line that’s capable of scaling aggressively,” she explains. “And with economies of scale, we also foresee the prices coming down at least 30%.”

When contemplating the future of Crafty Counter products, Reddy reveals that she isn’t stopping at hard-boiled eggs. “We are working on egg patties next and hoping to launch these later this year.”


Israel is a notable hotspot for alt egg innovation, with a variety of both biotech and plant-based offerings being developed. One of the players making huge progress on the plant-based side is Egg’n’Up, which is offering clean-label egg replacers for the food sector.

When asked why she decided to take the plant-based path (rather than the cell ag approach), CEO, Billy Yanko (pictured left, above), states five key reasons. “Allergenicity to egg proteins; sustainability (our proprietary technology reduces the carbon footprint); regulatory and legislative process; time to market; and cost of production.”

And Yanko believes that being plant-based is what has enabled her to go so far down the path to commercialization so quickly. “Not having to pass regulatory hurdles is to our advantage but it’s worth looking at it from the customer’s side as well,” she says. “This provides our customers with the ability to clean their lines from a major allergen (eggs) without contaminating it with others (soy, etc), alongside the other great benefits of our products.”

The Egg’n’Up technology deployed to produce its egg replacers is based on proprietary know-how combining proteins, starches, and fibers that allows the firm to produce a functional, alternative egg product without using any ingredients that have E numbers. “The products are also allergen free,” Yanko notes. “And our technology has a positive effect on the carbon footprint in comparison with fresh eggs.”

The food sector relies heavily on eggs for their multifunctionality in various applications. However, this dependency comes at a high price

With regard to the main difficulties in producing egg products, Yanko says the big challenge of creating a clean-label, allergen-free egg replacer is to achieve the functionality of the egg in various applications, specifically “to create the right texture without having any effect on the taste, and on the other hand, having a minimal effect on the process and keeping a one-to-one replacement ratio”.

Eggs-clusive club

The huge selling point for Yanko’s product is the ‘100% clean label’ and she believes this is a point of differentiation between her products and previous generations. “First-generation products consist mainly of hydrocolloids (such as methylcellulose) and enzymes (such as transglutaminase), which according to the consumers’ perception are harmful to their health.

”Egg’n’Up plant-based egg replacers are, by definition, clean-label products. With a decisive consumer shift toward healthier, better-for-you products and growing consumer demand for transparency and simplicity in food production, maintaining clean-label products that exclude undesired E numbers is critical. Our products have no E numbers, no methylcellulose, no hydrocolloids, no transglutaminase, are non-GMO, non-allergenic, no cholesterol, and have a short list of ingredients.”

An impressive pitch, but does this come at a cost in terms of price parity with other alt egg products? “Our products will be in the range of the current egg processing products,” Yanko says. “But it’s not just about the price. Another component is the cost of production. By using Egg’n’Up, which is without allergens, the productive efficiency of a manufacturer increases.

“The industry also requires stability of raw materials and using our products will ensure continuous availability, which enables efficiency in design and production, and hence reduced costs for food manufacturers. Our solutions deliver cost-efficiency, scalability, and improved business processes.”

In terms of what comes next, Yanko says, “Our R&D process defines the specific role of the egg in each application and targets its replacement. We will keep developing different products to fit in specific different applications.”

And she predicts this will become big business, both for her and other alt egg players. “You have to understand that the food industry relies heavily on eggs for their multifunctionality in various applications,” Yanko says. “However, this dependency comes at a high price and entails many drawbacks for food companies. The reasons behind the surge of food manufacturers needing to remove eggs from their products include availability and price volatility, food safety issues, egg allergies, a high environmental footprint, the vegan trend, and ethical implications.”

This article is republished from the April/May 2023 edition of Protein Production Technology International, the world's leading resource for the alternative proteins industry. If you wish to subscribe to future issues free of charge, please click here

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