Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Natural Products Expo West show last week, SVP global sales Matt Riley said: “We're growing at 40% plus, we’re not seeing any downturn and we have so much more potential in terms of household penetration and product proliferation.”
He added: “We're the number one selling item in frozen meals and entrees category at Whole Foods with our folded Just Egg, and our sous vide Just Egg bites are now in 9,000 points of distribution including Walmart, Whole Foods and Safeway.
“We're aiming to double our revenue again over the year prior; to date we sold over 250 million egg equivalents globally,” added Riley, who said Just Egg has just launched a new offering with coffee chain Peet’s (Mediterranean Flatbread with crispy lavash topped with warm JUST Egg and Violife vegan cheese), its second sandwich with Peet's, he said.
"The Everything Plant based sandwich featuring JUST Egg Folded was launched last year and it's already the #2 selling hot food item on their menu.
“We're selling in South Africa, Singapore, Korea, and China, and will be hopefully launching in Europe this year. “
Does Just Egg work in baked goods?
Asked about the versatility of Just Egg - which works particularly well as a scrambled egg alternative - Riley said: “It does work in a lot of baking applications, more dense cakes, cookies, muffins: it works great for pancakes or waffles, and French toast.
“It doesn't have that full aerating quality if you wanted to make an angel food cake, for example, but we expect that to be part of our future. We're on our fourth version of our liquid product today, and each version gets more and more egg-like, or we'll add other functionalities to it.
“But we have a lot of branded companies using our product today as an ingredient, so Field Roast, Alpha foods, Kellogg's if you walk the show floor, you'll see our product in their products."
'When we first launched this product, it was $8. It’s $4 today'
Right now, Eat Just's mung beans are processed at facilities in the US and Germany (with a facility in Singapore in the pipeline), with Eat Just then selling the protein isolate to partners such as Egg Solutions in Canada and US partner Michael Foods, who add other ingredients such as canola oil, gums and seasonings, before distributing JUST Egg products to foodservice and retail partners, said Riley.
Margins will continue to improve through more efficient sourcing of mung beans, higher yields from processing, monetizing byproducts (starch and fiber), and increased scale, claimed Riley.
“We’re controlling costs on sourcing and upstream processing. We’ve worked really hard over the last three years to bring costs down significantly. When we first launched this product, it was $8. It’s $4 today.”
Asked about comments made by founder Josh Tetrick last summer in which he said he was aiming to achieve operational profitability before the end of 2021, Riley said: "We're still working towards that goal and we're closer than we were a year ago. It's a primary focus for us."
The size of the prize
So what’s the size of the prize for Eat Just?
According to Riley, the addressable market is the $238bn global chicken egg market, spanning retail eggs ($122bn), frozen breakfast products ($8.9bn), foodservice ($48.8bn), and ingredients ($73.2bn): “There's 1.4 trillion eggs laid annually around the globe, so we think the size of the market is significant.”
“Over time,” he added, “the [mung bean] protein could be used as a functional ingredient in pastas, breads, so that's certainly I think, part of the future opportunity.”
Bye bye Just Mayo
Eat Just’s first commercial product - egg-free Just Mayo - meanwhile, has been discontinued, he confirmed: “You might find a jar or two here and there, but we're not manufacturing it anymore, as we’ve decided to focus our efforts on Just Egg and [cell-cultured meat brand] GOOD Meat.”
The evolution of Eat Just...
A high-profile player in the ‘alternative protein’ space launching in December 2011 (as Hampton Creek) with a mission to disrupt the food system, Eat Just emerged victorious from spats with Unilever and the FDA, raised bucket loads of cash from Silicon Valley’s biggest investors, and developed a range of consumer products from Just Mayo to Just cookie dough using yellow pea protein.
Five years later, founder Josh Tetrick – described by one industry source as “a phenomenal pitch man… one of the best capital raisers in the business” - was fielding questions about product buybacks and boardroom squabbling, with some commentators speculating that he was running a ‘food company masquerading as a tech company’ and others wondering if his forays into the nascent cell-cultured meat industry reflected a lack of focus rather than a move into a logical adjacency.
Fast forward to 2018, however, and the narrative changed again with the launch of Just Egg, a plant-based egg alternative made with mung bean protein that quickly demonstrated the potential to transform the company’s fortunes.
By August 2019, Tetrick was telling reporters that, “The company is JUST Egg, and JUST Egg is the company… We could be in a world in the next 10-15 years where more people are consuming an egg from a plant than from a chicken.”
The company has since launched a cell-cultured meat brand in Singapore called GOOD Meat, with hybrid chicken-nugget products combining plant-based proteins and cell-cultured meat currently sold in a handful of restaurants.
Ingredients, Just Egg: Water, Mung Bean Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Contains less than 2% of Dehydrated Onion, Gellan Gum, Natural Carrot Extractives (color), Natural Flavors, Natural Turmeric Extractives (color), Potassium Citrate, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Sugar, Tapioca Syrup, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Transglutaminase, Nisin (preservative).