The price of eggs has more than doubled in the last year due to inflation, avian flu outbreaks, and the war in Ukraine. But demand for the breakfast and baking staple hasn’t gone down much; people like eggs, and there aren’t many viable substitutes that truly taste, look, and perform like the real thing.
An Israeli startup called Yo Egg thinks it has a solution in the form of vegan eggs. The product doesn’t share much with real eggs in terms of composition, but the company says it’s achieved a near-exact match in taste and texture.
Yo eggs are made primarily of water, vegetable oil, soy protein, and chickpea protein, with small amounts of other ingredients including potato starch, yeast, and seaweed extract. One egg has 40 calories, 1 gram of fat, no cholesterol, and 3 grams of protein.
A large Grade-A chicken egg, meanwhile, has 70 calories, 5 grams of fat, 195 milligrams of cholesterol, 6 grams of protein, and at least 10 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamins A, D, E, and B12, among other important nutrients. So while you get less bad stuff—namely fat and cholesterol—from a Yo egg, you get less good stuff too.
Yo egg was first served at an Israeli breakfast chain called Benedict, and the company unveiled its sunny-side-up eggs in the US at a trade show last May. The eggs are also served at Google and Facebook’s corporate offices in Israel. Besides scaling up production of their existing products, Yo Egg wants to create vegan versions of a hard-boiled egg and a scrambled egg.
The company’s website doesn’t show what sort of packaging the eggs come in, but they’re likely individually packaged in some sort of imitation shell (even if that “shell” is a plastic cube, like an ice-cube tray), unlike egg substitutes that can be poured out of a milk-like container; since Yo Egg aims to give consumers the “whole egg experience,” it’s important that the product is served with distinct white and yolk components.
There are several other plant-based egg substitutes on the market, and more in the works. Evo Foods has a liquid egg alternative in India; Swiss grocery company Migros makes a soy-protein-based hard-boiled egg; Singapore-based OsomeFood has a hard-boiled egg made of mycoprotein; and San Francisco-based Eat Just’s Just Egg is made of mung bean protein. There’s also Every Company’s Every EggWhite, made using precision fermentation and a protein recipe from real chickens.
The global plant-based egg market is predicted to reach just under $800 million in value by 2027, up from $148 million in 2020; increasing demand for vegetarian and vegan foods are expected to be the biggest factor in that growth. More people are starting to look for animal-free options due to health, environmental, and animal rights reasons (though the recent struggles of the plant-based meat industry, which is being called both a fad and a flop, indicate otherwise).
Yo Egg has a production facility in Israel and recently opened a second one in Los Angeles, which they say can produce thousands of eggs per day. Their poached egg will start being offered this week at six different restaurants in LA.
“Our vision is to create the world’s largest egg company, not egg alternative company, and not the largest plant-based egg company, but the largest egg company without using chickens,” Yo Egg’s CEO, Eran Groner, told TechCrunch.
They’ll have their work cut out for them; they’re aiming to get the vegan eggs into grocery stores and reach price parity with traditional eggs within the next few years (whether that means the inflated prices we’re seeing now or the prices of two years ago is unclear; hopefully the latter).
“It will work in our benefit to remove the animals from the food system,” Groner said. “Because then we won’t see price hikes, we’ll use way less natural resources, and we’ll minimize the use of antibiotics and the danger of animal-borne diseases.”
Let’s be honest: the odds of fully removing animals from the food system anytime in the foreseeable future are slim to none. But for consumers who want alternatives, the available options are steadily growing.
Image Credit: Yo! Egg