Egglife Foods disrupts traditional flour tortilla category: 'It truly is the perfect wrap'
"It truly is the perfect wrap," Kroll told FoodNavigator-USA, who was the former CMO of MillerCoors and left the company to pursue his true industry passion of creating products that improve consumers' wellbeing. Prior to Egglife, Kroll headed up marketing efforts at better-for-you sports drink brand Coco5.
Founded in 2019, Egglife ready-to-eat wraps are made from egg whites, xanthan gum, natural flavors, salt, and nisin (a natural preservative). The wraps provide the same stretch and neutral taste profile consumers expect from a flour tortilla, but with a better-for-you nutritional profile: one wrap contains <35 calories, 0g of fat, 0g saturated fat, <1g carbs, <1g of fiber, 0g of sugar, and 5-6g of protein
"If you compare that to the leading flour tortillas, there’s no comparison. Once you get people to make that switch, they switch for good," said Kroll.
Rocketing demand: 'Our growth has been repeatable whether it’s urban or rural, or upscale or downscale'
Expecting to make a dent in the multi-billion-dollar category where there's been a handful of better-for-you entrants is an ambitious undertaking, acknowledges Kroll, but one in which the emerging brand has already made meaningful progress.
According to Kroll, the brand is "batting a thousand" with nearly every retailer it has approached. Last month, Egglife entered Walmart stores with more retailers on deck including Target, additional Kroger banners, and is in "early conversations" with Whole Foods Market.
"It’s been a pretty remarkable journey. In October of 2019, we were pre-revenue. We entered 2020 in 75 stores in the Chicagoland area, we finished 2020 with about 1,700 doors ... and by the end of this year, we expect to be in 10,000 doors," he said.
"We’re on a pace to go from zero revenue to over $30m-35m in retail in basically two years."
A huge contributing factor to the brand's current and project growth, said Kroll, is the product's broad consumer adoption.
"What we’ve found is our growth has been repeatable whether it’s urban or rural, or upscale or downscale," said Kroll, who shared how for value-focused retail outlets such as Woodman's in Wisconsin, the brand is moving over 90 units per week.
And in more premium retailers, such as Fresh Thyme, the brand has "achieved over 20% share of the entire tortilla category – that’s ambient as well as refrigerated," noted Kroll.
Asked what the best merchandising strategy has been for a product like Egglife that is a new concept for many consumers and also needs to be kept chilled, Kroll said, "We’ve been very intentional with retailers to be placed in shredded cheese, a complimentary product to wraps. You’ll find us in shredded cheese in probably nearly 80% of our doors."
What's driving consumer adoption?
According to Kroll, Egglife is hitting the market at time when consumers are ultra-aware of the foods they're putting into their bodies, and Egglife fits the bill for many of consumers health priorities. Despite qualifying health credentials that meet a number diet trends (e.g. zero sugar, gluten-free, dairy-free, keto and paleo), Kroll stressed, "We’re not a keto brand, we’re not a paleo brand, we’re hitting on a core that transcends each of those lifestyles," he said.
"With Egglife there are no trade-offs. We are very clean label, we’re 95% egg white, and that’s an easy get for people," said Kroll.
To keep pace with consumer demand, Egglife commissioned its first manufacturing line in the fall 2020 -- which required a 32,000 square foot expansion to their existing manufacturing facility -- capable of producing 200 wraps per minute (10X the size and capacity of its original facility).
"We have a second and third [production] line coming up in the next two years," said Kroll, who believes demand for a product like Egglife will mirror past category disruptions.
"You saw Chobani come in with a better-for-you offering in yogurt. You’ve seen Fairlife disrupt the commoditized segment of everyday milk. Retailers will tell you that the majority of growth is happening in the perimeter," he said.
"We’re the latest chapter in an emerging book of bringing meaningful innovation to the segment."