Meet Eat JUST, The Worldwide Market Leader in Plant-Based Egg
Apr 22, 2021
Due to a heightened focus on ethical consumption, alternative proteins attract consumers and investors alike. “Alternative proteins have morphed in just the past few years from a niche product to a mainstream phenomenon”, a study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) finds. A famous example of investors’ hunger for shares and equity in companies producing alternative proteins is Beyond Meat: the US-based alternative meat producer had one of the most successful IPOs of the last two decades when going public in 2019. In our blog post on alternative proteins, we provided an overview of the big names in the alternative proteins market. In the following paragraphs, we aim to take a deep dive into the success story of Eat JUST, the most renowned producer of egg alternatives.
Break-through discovery: mung beans can substitute chicken eggs
The Californian company Eat JUST develops and markets plant-based substitutes for foods that ordinarily use chicken eggs, with the mayonnaise JUST Mayo being the best-known product. Josh Tetrick and Josh Balk founded the startup in 2011. The first years were mainly spent doing research and development. Researchers at Eat JUST (back then: Hampton Creek and Just) tested plant varieties in a lab to identify plant-based proteins with properties similar to chicken eggs, with a particular focus on gelling and emulsifying.
After intense research and development, the game-changing discovery was that mung beans could replace conventional eggs. The mung bean is a plant species in the legume family mainly cultivated in the Indian subcontinent, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. “It took us five years to find it, but we found a plant that magically scrambles like an egg. It is a protein-rich legume called the mung bean. Mung beans have been in the global food system for thousands of years, but they have never been used quite like this”, the JUST website states.
The JUST Egg is increasingly important in the egg aisle, food service, and the ingredients market
The Eat JUST egg alternatives based on mung beans have a similar texture, flavor, and color to chicken eggs. However, the difference regarding the environmental impact is enormous. According to Eat JUST, their plant-based alternative uses 98 percent less water, has a 93 percent smaller carbon footprint, and uses 86 percent less land than conventional animal sources. The egg alternative has zero cholesterol and contains less saturated fat than traditional eggs, with a similar amount of protein. According to Eat Just, “it is one of the most sustainable protein sources available.”
Whole Foods was the first grocery chain to sell alternative egg products developed by Hampton Creek and Just in 2013. Nowadays, strong partners such as Alibaba, Costco, Walmart, and Whole Foods Market distribute Eat JUST products. The JUST is gaining market share in the global egg industry, in food services, the alternative ingredients market, and the frozen breakfast sector. Eggs are the fastest-growing plant-based protein product.
100 million egg equivalents sold in spring 2021
The alternative egg producer became a unicorn in 2016 by surpassing a valuation of 1 billion USD. In 2020, Eat JUST created an Asian subsidiary with the private equity firm Proterra Investment Partners Asia. Through the joint venture, Proterra promised to invest up to 100 million USD. Adittionally, an Eat JUST manufacturing facility is currently being built in Singapore. In March 2021, Eat JUST has raised a 200 million USD fundraising round led by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and announced that it had sold the equivalent of 100 million chicken eggs.
Besides successfully producing plant-based eggs, Eat JUST owns the leading cell-based chicken manufacturer GOOD Meat. It is the first lab-grown meat to receive regulatory approval in Singapore, and the city-state became the first country in the world to approve the cultured GOOD Meat chicken nuggets for sale nationwide. “This multibillion-dollar company is selling lab-grown chicken in a world-first”, the business news platform CNBC titled an article about Eat JUST and GOOD Meat in March 2021.
Eat JUST might go public before the end of 2021
“What we see today is only the beginning of the protein transformation”, the BCG study mentioned above states. ” By 2035, when alternative proteins have reached full parity with conventional animal proteins in terms of taste, texture, and price, 11 percent of the world’s meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy consumed will most likely be alternative,” the study authors write.
Furthermore, the company could already go public this year. “Once we hit operating profitability, I will start considering an IPO with my team and with my board and with some of our major shareholders,” Eat JUST co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick is quoted in a Reuters article. With the pandemic boosting purchases, Eat JUST might go public sooner than expected: ”
The target to hit operating profitability is sometime before the end of 2021.”
Summary of the most impressive milestones achieved by Eat JUST:
- Whole Foods was the first grocery chain to sell the startup’s alternative egg products in 2013
- surpassing 1 billion USD in valuation and becoming a unicorn in 2016
- creation of an Asian subsidiary with the private equity firm Proterra Investment Partners Asia in 2020
- selling the equivalent of 100 million chicken eggs in March 2021
- high probability of going public in 2021
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*Disclaimer: The above article is for educational purposes only and does neither constitute investment advice nor should it be considered to be an invitation or recommendation to buy securities or any other investment products. Please consult your financial advisor about the risks and opportunities prior to making investment decisions. By clicking on that link you confirm that you are a resident of Switzerland and a Qualified Investor according to the new Swiss legislation on collective investment schemes (CISA and CISO).
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