Tetrick was speaking to FoodNavigator-USA after Hellman's (Unilever) launched an egg-free spread likely to go head-to-head with Hampton Creek’s flagship ‘Just Mayo’ egg-free spread, and an organic mayo line using 100% cage-free eggs.
The move was good for the industry, insisted Tetrick, who said he had not yet tried the new Hellmann's products: “I think it is an extraordinarily positive thing. I didn’t start Hampton Creek to do anything but try and make the food system much closer to our values and there is no way that just one company can do it.
“I wake up in the morning hoping that Nestle and Unilever and Kraft address these issues in their supply chains. We don’t solve the big problems in food with just one company doing something," added Tetrick, who says he's not anti-egg, but anti-industrialized egg production, which he believes is cruel and environmentally unsustainable.
We want to connect with regular people, because that’s the only way you can have a real impact
Tetrick would not disclose Hampton Creek's revenues, but said they grew by 350% last year, via a combination of strong velocity through existing accounts, new business wins, and an expanded product range.
While Hampton Creek has taken share from some big rivals, it is also bringing new consumers into the categories in which it operates and driving incremental growth, he claimed.
Who are Hampton Creek's products for?
As for the target consumer, while Hampton Creek can count “caring vegans” in wealthy parts of the US among its loyal customers, its mission has always been to make products that all Americans can enjoy, and afford, stressed Tetrick.
“We want to connect with regular people, because that’s the only way you can have a real impact," he added, noting that the price tag of many products boasting superior health, environmental or animal welfare credentials often put them out of reach of "everyday people".
"As other companies begin to embrace the things we are doing, I’d encourage them to focus on everyday people as well, as that is what is really going to change things.”
We’re not going to change the world in a fundamental way just with an [egg-free] mayo
While Hampton Creek is best known for its egg-free spread Just Mayo – a choice of brand name which landed it in legal hot water with Unilever and the FDA – it has also proved that its ‘Just’ platform can extend to cookies, dressings, cake mixes and other products, said Tetrick.
“We’re not just a mayo company any more. We’re not going to change the world in a fundamental way just with an [egg-free] mayo, and we’re now generating more revenues from our other products. We’ve really diversified.
“Our new dressings – Just Ranch, Just Caesar, Just Balsamic - we’re rolling them out to all the major retailers by the end of the year [Hampton Creek’s retail customers include Kroger, Walmart, Target, Safeway, Dollar Tree and Costco].
“We’re also rolling out all the new mixes – Just Muffins, Just Pancakes, Just Brownies, Just Cake - with these retailers as well,” added Tetrick, who said Hampton Creek had moved from a 2,700 sq ft building to a 95,000 sq ft HQ last year.
“They have also launched with Compass Group, the biggest foodservice company in the world, so we’re in 2,300 public schools, 400+ universities, some of the largest corporate cafes in the world, plus stadiums.”
We're expanding our international footprint
The partnership with Compass has also helped ensure that Hampton Creek’s platform is far broader-based than it was a couple of years ago, with roughly 50% of revenues now generated from foodservice, he added.
"We're also expanding our international footprint. By the end of the year around 10% of our revenues will be from international, whereas last year it was less than 1%."
Asked about Hampton Creek's much-anticipated plant-based Just Scramble [like Egg Beaters - minus the egg], which has proved one of the most challenging products from an R&D perspective, he added: “We're aiming to launch some time this year."
Owning the manufacturing footprint
While Hampton Creek currently manufactures its products via a network of co-manufacturers in the US and Canada, it is also exploring purchasing some manufacturing facilities, said Tetrick.
“Imagine buying a jar of mayo and getting real time safety analytics… or seeing dropcams on every single step of the manufacturing process; it's perfect transparency. And that is much easier to do if you own your manufacturing facilities.”
Hampton Creek is also devoting considerable resources to researching new plant-based ingredients and ensuring that long-term partnerships are in place with farmers to ensure that supply can meet demand, said Tetrick.
“We’ve got one of our lead plant sourcers out on the road in Asia right now working with farmers to help us scale up; because if we can’t get this right it is a limiting step for us," added Tetrick, who has attracted millions of dollars of capital from a clutch of high-profile investors from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin over the past six years.
“We’re also investing tens of million dollars over the next few years on our discovery platform to help us find more plants out there that are functionally powerful and are well outside of what we’re using right now.”