Yolkin’ around: Egg replacement ingredients soar, and it’s not just veganism boosting demand
18 Feb 2019 --- Egg replacements have found a significant market in recent years with potential for further growth in the pipeline. There are several reasons behind this ongoing development. The availability and price of eggs are subject to seasonal fluctuations which can influence the end products’ profitability, meaning that manufacturers who use eggs on a large scale are seeking economical alternatives. Many consumers are adopting plant-based lifestyles, which avoid the consumption of any ingredients derived from animals. According to many suppliers, the rising demand for egg replacement ingredients is related to the mainstreaming of veganism and the even more popular flexitarian trend, both of which are gaining traction in consumer groups globally.
Lene Hald Pedersen, Senior Category Manager for Bakery, Arla Foods Ingredients, highlights how egg prices are going through an extended period of volatility and cites fears around potential import taxes in the EU.
“In 2017 and 2018, for example, scares in the US and Europe involving Salmonella and the pesticide Fipronil caused big fluctuations in supply levels and prices. Looking forward, there are fears the EU could place import levies on egg powder in 2019, which would most likely exacerbate the situation. Many bakery manufacturers are turning to egg replacers to mitigate the impact of this challenging environment,” she explains to FoodIngredientsFirst.
Dr. Dana Elgeti, Marketing Manager Nutrition at Wacker Biosolutions, notes that in addition to the cost issues regarding eggs, consumer trends are an important factor. “Consumers are increasingly, and quite deliberately, demanding products which contain no animal-sourced ingredients, while still requiring that their texture and flavor meet high standards.”
Neither veganism nor allergen-sensitivity are currently major drivers for the use of egg replacers, according to Pedersen. “The primary concern is volatility in the egg market. Nevertheless, demand may be increased in certain markets where eggs are not eaten for religious reasons.”
According to Robert Lambert, Marketing & Communications at Ulrick & Short, the reported number of people identifying as vegan has shot up to over 3.5 million and increased demand for egg-free products has followed.
“Even consumers that are not actively vegan are becoming more health conscious and are adopting vegetarian and vegan buying habits,” he notes.
Manufacturers are more likely to develop vegan products from concept, rather than retrospectively replace the egg, says Lambert. “There is a lot of potential in markets, not only in bakery but also snacks and convenience food sectors. Ninety-one percent of vegans feel that the food-to-go sector doesn’t provide them with enough choice, so there is a lot of potential for texture and flavor innovation in the market regarding egg replacement and vegan products,” he explains.
The egg replacement market has evolved in the last few years, according to Lambert. Before the mainstreaming of veganism and the growth in the consciousness of allergen labeling, the main benefits of egg replacement was to mitigate against price fluctuations and to provide functional benefits for a product.
“The functionality and price stability that egg replacers offer are still significant benefits for manufacturers, however, with the growth of vegan diets and allergenic consumer consciousness, it makes sense for manufacturers, where possible, to actively try to avoid eggs and in their standard products,” Lambert continues. “Whereas a few years ago, the vegan and dairy-free options were additional concepts and if there is no detriment to overall product quality, manufacturers are now actively seeking for it to be the standard.”
“While the number of vegetarian launches has been relatively stable over the past few years, vegan launches more than doubled in the past five years, growing by 175 percent from July 2013 to June 2018,” reveals Dr. Elgeti.
Bakery challenges and opportunities
In 2018, Wacker developed several new recipes for replacing egg in different fine bakery products, such as egg-free brioche, cupcakes, pound cake and layer cake. “With our solution, the manufacturer can save costs and use the existing equipment and processes. The consumer can enjoy a product without taste or textural compromises,” she adds.
Pedersen, from Arla Foods Ingredients, also notes that uncertainty in the egg market is particularly bad news for the cake industry, which is a heavy user of eggs, so any potential threat to the supply chain is a significant worry. “As a consequence, cake manufacturers are showing greater interest in minimizing risk levels with a strategy of using egg replacers. Replacing all of the eggs in a recipe is possible. However, many cake producers choose not to replace eggs completely because market insights show that many consumers continue to view eggs as a desirable ingredient on product labels.”
“They consider them a natural and familiar ingredient – a typical ‘kitchen cupboard’ ingredient in fact – so removing them altogether might not land well with them,” Pedersen continues. As such, partial replacement is an effective way to reduce exposure to the risk of volatile egg prices and supply, she notes.
Arla Foods Ingredients has carried out testing to find the optimum level of partial replacement using the company’s Nutrilac egg replacers, which are made from natural whey proteins. The results showed that incorporating them as a 50 percent egg substitute in cake recipes creates a more price-stable environment with no negative impact on quality. In fact, in some cases, quality can be improved, Pedersen states.
As eggs are such a highly-functional ingredient, they are intrinsic to cakes. They are required to aerate, emulsify, enhance rheological properties and provide gel systems for texture – all of which are critical functions to make a successful cake, Lambert, from Ulrick and Short, explains. “Therefore to develop a good vegan cake, developers must first fully understand the exact function of the different proteins in egg and how they impact the different properties of cakes.”
Egg contains a multitude of proteins in the yolk and albumen – these different proteins vary considerably in solubility and structure, and exhibit different characteristics when subject to temperature change. It is this which both provides the multi-functionality of egg and also what makes it so difficult to replace.
“Hence, the biggest consideration bakers have when developing vegan products is finding the right formulations and ingredients to deliver all of the same functional properties of egg,” Lambert adds.
Bakery is an area in which egg replacements have an abundance of opportunity, according to Dr. Elgeti. “CAVAMAX W6 offers a solution for reduced-egg or egg-free baked goods. The soluble dietary fiber has an emulsifying and stabilizing effect in a wide variety of bakery products,” she explains. “Layer and sponge cakes, waffles, muffins or brioches made with CAVAMAX W6 are just as light and fluffy as consumers would expect from baked goods made conventionally with egg. But you can’t use CAVAMAX W6 in other products such as egg-free mayonnaise.”
However, designing ingredients as egg replacers requires a good understanding of egg functionalities in baked systems, which include: Foaming, emulsification, stabilizing and moistening. “The egg-free version should not be compromised with regard to texture and flavor,” she comments. “In addition, eggs impact the color and flavor of cakes and other baked goods. Furthermore, the egg-free version should not result in (a significant) price increase. For the manufacturer, it is also important that the existing equipment can be used and that there are no major processing changes required,” Dr. Elgeti concludes.
As consumer frequently opt for vegan-friendly products and ingredients the bakery sector will continue to boom. Vegan claims on packaging is becoming much more desirable and we can expect to see further innovation in this area. Egg replacement ingredients will become more readily available for applications outside of bakery, such as condiments, confectionery and snacks.
By Elizabeth Green
To contact our editorial team please email us at email@example.com
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.