How plant-based Just Egg delivers as the market scrambles

The plant-based substitute has seen record velocities and increased demand in recent months, but leaders say it hasn't changed the company's mission.

Megan Poinski, Senior reporter

February 17, 2023

4 Min Read
Just Egg bottle in front of carton of brown eggs

Last month, Just Egg quietly hit a milestone it had been aiming for since it first hit the market in 2018: Cost parity with eggs.

According to USDA statistics, a dozen eggs delivered to a warehouse the week ending Jan. 3 was $5.38. A bottle of pourable Just Egg has an average retail cost of $4.40, said Matt Riley, Eat Just's chief revenue officer.

In late January, Riley said that the mung bean-based egg substitute product always had that target in its sights. And while the company has been bringing its price to consumers down as it has scaled up its operations, it wasn't thought to be something that would happen so quickly. Decreases in egg availability due to a deadly bird flu outbreak that began last year has caused prices to spike about 60% compared with a year before.

"This is the first time actually on a unit basis … that our egg is cheaper than a dozen eggs at shelf," Riley said. "That's probably not going to last, but it is a critical point in our journey around pricing. We've always been committed to providing as close to price parity as we could and we've achieved it, at least in the short term."

And consumers have definitely noticed. Riley said that in the last eight weeks, they've seen record velocities for Just Egg on a per-store, per-week basis. In 2022 as a whole, the brand posted 17% growth—mostly in the liquid product, but also in the brand's frozen folded eggs and sous vide bites.

Related:Monitor: Natural channel shoppers still cutting back due to inflation

The brand's manufacturing output increased 25% since December. The company also reached out to retail partners and consumers, taking out a full-page ad in a recent Sunday New York Times to tell potential customers "Plants don't get the flu."

"Our [retail] buyers are dealing with probably the most challenging year they've ever experienced in the egg category, just from availability, pricing, assortment," Riley said. "We're just trying to be part of the solution."

Julie Emmett, vice president of marketplace development for the Plant Based Foods Association, said that the fact that the price gap is closing between plant-based and traditional eggs is "very helpful" in promoting alternatives. The situation also shows the fragility of depending on animal products. After all, she said, external issues like viruses and poor weather can have an outsized influence on price and availability of animal-derived proteins.

"Each time this happens, consumers are more likely to purchase a plant-based food item because it's there, and then they find it meets their needs," Emmett said. "And the foundation of plant-based foods grows."


Choices matter—to consumers and retailers

Consumers nationwide are responding to the changes in the egg set.

According to a survey conducted by Just Egg and Suzy last month, 77% of respondents have noticed higher prices and less availability when shopping for eggs. Nearly nine of 10 respondents are adapting their egg buying habits to the economics of today, and 40% said they are more likely to try plant-based eggs right now.

In North America, Just Egg is available in more than 44,000 retailers and more than 2,200 foodservice outlets.

While Eat Just is selling more bottles of Just Egg, Riley said the company is also working to provide consumers with reasons to keep eating plant-based versions of the breakfast staple. The brand has reformulated to improve taste and eating experience—Riley said what is available now is the fourth version of the product—and continues to innovate into new formats and products.

Before the spike in egg prices, the brand had more than a 50% repeat buying rate, Riley said. Just Egg was in about 2 million homes in the United States as of last July. More recent data isn't yet available.

The PBFA is working closely to collect shopper data—both on what they are buying and what their motivations are—to figure out more about how to retain the consumers who are reaching for plant-based eggs right now, Emmett said. But retailers seem to appreciate the choice.

"What retailers are telling us is, 'Don't stop. Keep innovating,'" she said. "They want new products that meet their consumers' needs."

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This piece originally appeared on Food Dive, an Informa sister website. Visit the site for information on manufacturing, packaging, ingredients and more.


About the Author(s)

Megan Poinski

Senior reporter, Food Dive

Megan Poinski is an award-winning journalist who has worked with state and local government reporting in Ohio, Maryland and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Prior to joining Industry Dive, her last journalism job was as a homepage editor at The Washington Post. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from George Washington University and a master’s degree in information management from the University of Maryland’s iSchool.

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