Home » Crack open industry barriers to produce stand-out plant-based eggs

Crack open industry barriers to produce stand-out plant-based eggs

How do we overcome barriers in the alternative-egg industry?

Like many emerging industries, growth of the alternative-egg sector is slowed by challenges and consumer barriers. We can only overcome these to maximise plant-based egg sales if we can recognise and understand them.

“Eggs are generally a low-cost, protein-rich food that are easily accessible to most consumers. So adapting consumer behaviour could be a challenge [for the plant-based egg industry].”1

Jennifer Bartashus

Senior Bloomberg Intelligence Analyst

So, what are some of the main issues?

Top four industry challenges

Steep pricing

Price is a primary factor influencing consumer purchasing decisions, with consumers ‌favouring low-cost food items, especially during the cost-of-living crisis. With this in mind, the high cost associated with plant-based egg products and the lack of price parity with animal-based egg products is one of the major factors limiting industry growth. 

alt-eggs
Image source: Unsplash/Allef Vinicius.

A recent survey found that 70% of consumers think plant-based food is more expensive and harder to afford than animal-based products.2

So, if we want to encourage a greater number of plant-based egg purchases, we must reduce this price barrier (which is fuelled by inflation and supply-issue competition).

Cost of manufacture has increased due to everything you hear about in the news. However, we are loathed to pass this onto the consumer.

Rik Roberts

GM of Plant Heads and Spokesperson for Crackd The No-Egg Egg

Of course, beating this challenge is easier said than done and has both long (as well as complicated) and short-term fixes. However, in the short-term, you can make your products more attractive to consumers by working with retailers/stockists to utilise discounts and promotions.

Plant-based eggs do have some cost advantages over animal-based eggs, though:

“The biggest advantage, cost-wise, that we have over a chicken egg is that roughly 53% of the cost of every egg comes from the soya and corn the chicken consumes. [Egg companies] are stuck with that cost, we’re not.”3

Josh Tetrick

CEO, Eat Just, tells Bloomberg

Lack of capacity and accessibility

Maximising capacity to increase accessibility is an issue with which a number of plant-based categories are grappling. The market for alt-eggs will remain limited until the number of products on shelves can be increased to levels that enable consumers to access them easily. 

In order to increase the volume of plant-based egg products, companies should focus on working with multiple manufacturers and consider other angles to increase output, collaborating with innovative ventures to speed up and streamline production. 

Minimal consumer awareness, acceptance, and widespread food neophobia (nervousness of trying something new)

Stemming from accessibility issues is consumer awareness and acceptance. A lack of familiarity with plant-based products results in negative consumer expectations and lower acceptability.

To overcome this, brands should push plant-based egg communications as much as possible, increasing awareness via advertising, social media, and brand/restaurant partnerships.

Brands should also market alt-egg products with explicit reference to familiar products with positive sensory associations, like conventional eggs and products that are made from them. 

plant-based eggs
Just Egg products are familiar and have great taste and texture, making consumer acceptance high. Image credit: Just Eat Inc.

I think the key challenge, especially in the UK, is that there is not a developed liquid egg market, unlike in the US, so the consumer is not necessarily used to buying ‘egg’ in this format. If you add into this, the fact we’re a vegan egg, then it gets even more complicated for the consumer. As to how you would overcome this… competition helps. The more of us who are talking about vegan egg solutions, the better. ATL, social, digital, and print advertising at key times are key to driving awareness. Winning the support of the retailers to list the product and support it, is also critical.

Rik Roberts

GM of Plant Heads and Spokesperson for Crackd The No-Egg Egg

Consumers also form different attitudes toward new food products depending on the perceptions and associations they develop once introduced to a product. For example, a different colour of plant-based meats compared to conventional meat increases consumers’ scepticism towards the taste and texture of the plant-meat.4 

To prevent this from happening with alt-eggs, plant-based egg producers should aim to produce alt-eggs that look like conventional eggs or egg products. 

Poor product taste, texture, and sensory qualities

Although the sensory and textural properties of conventional eggs are not easily replicated with plant-based ingredients, consumers expect alternative eggs to taste as good as conventional eggs and give a similar experience, as mentioned above.

Consistent research and development (R&D) and trials of new ingredients are required to achieve this.

“One of the fundamental barriers hindering the plant-based egg industry is the difficulty in replicating the taste and texture of chicken eggs. Additionally, the high cost of plant-based ingredients and the lack of infrastructure for large-scale production can make it challenging for plant-based egg companies to compete with traditional egg producers. These barriers have been resolved by Yo Egg through innovation.”

Eran Groner

Founder and CEO Yo! Egg, in an interview with ProVeg International

Additional barriers to the plant-based egg industry:

  • Limited applications and utility
  • Regulation/approvals from safety authorities for certain products
  • Consumer food allergies to some plant-based ingredients – soya, pea, wheat, etc.


Key takeaways

If you’re looking to get into the plant-based egg industry, or want to boost your product sales, it’s vital that you understand the challenges the industry faces and the barriers that prevent some consumers from making purchases. 

The New Food Hub recommends tailoring your product strategy to consider the following industry barriers:

  1. Steep pricing.
  2. Lack of capacity and accessibility.
  3. Minimal consumer awareness, acceptance, and widespread food neophobia (nervousness about trying something new).
  4. Poor product taste, texture, and sensory qualities.

On a final note, the alternative egg industry is brimming with potential – for consumers and for businesses.

Source: Crackd the No-Egg Egg, provided by Rik Roberts.

We have a massive opportunity here to bring an allergen-free, low-fat and vitamin enhanced product to the consumer. We’ve been certified carbon neutral for our liquid, and we continue to look for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. For manufacturing, we have a powdered version of our product. Eggs are used in so many food products – why wouldn’t you swap it for a vegan society certified No-Egg?

Rik Roberts

GM of Plant Heads and Spokesperson for Crackd The No-Egg Egg

Learn more about the opportunities for your business in parts I and II of the series. Crack into the alt-egg marketplace, here, and discover what’s in it for consumers

Get in touch with us at [email protected] for advice on overcoming these challenges and support with product strategy, and stay tuned for more insights into the plant-based egg industry.

References

  1. Sunny Side Definitely Up for Plant-Based Egg Market, (2022). The Food Institute. Available at: https://foodinstitute.com/focus/sunny-side-definitely-up-for-plant-based-egg-market/. Accessed 2023-03-02.
  2.  Plant-based price parity report, (2023). ProVeg International. Available: https://corporate.proveg.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Plant-based-Price-Parity-Report.pdf. Accessed 2021-03-02.
  3. Sunny Side Definitely Up for Plant-Based Egg Market, (2022). The Food Institute. Available at: https://foodinstitute.com/focus/sunny-side-definitely-up-for-plant-based-egg-market/. Accessed 2023-03-02.
  4. Exploring consumers’ perceptions of plant-based eggs using concept mapping and semantic network analysis, (2021). Science Direct. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S095032932100210X. Accessed 2023-03-05.

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