As egg white prices continue to rise on the heels of continual popularity in foodservice applications, egg replacement firms like Arla Foods Ingredients are seeing growing interest in egg white replacements, in particular the gluten-free arena, given their ability to produce voluminous, strong foams that retain their structure when baked.
“A lot of manufacturers use egg whites in gluten-free formulas because they work so well,” Terese O’Neill, Arla's regional sales manager, told FoodNavigator-USA.
“Since February, egg white prices have gone up from $5 to $8 per pound because there’s a lot more demand. All of a sudden, we have a lot of people asking about egg white replacements. We fielded a lot of requests at IBIE 2013 in Las Vegas.”
Arla’s Nutrilac BK-7565 and BK-7818 milk protein products are typically used to replace about 50% of eggs in formula where stability and tenderness are important—such as cakes, muffins, cookies and brownies. They also work well in custards, egg glazes, pancakes and waffles.
“We design our proteins to act perfectly like an egg—all the same emulsification, strength, and foaming properties,” she said.
BK-7818 is marketed more as an egg white replacement, especially in cakes, which O'Neill says the cost savings on egg whites could be significant for manufacturers formulating for the growing gluten-free food & beverage market, which is expected to reach $10.5 billion in retail sales this year. Still, it totally depends on the customer.
“We’ve successfully done up to 50% replacement of egg white in angel food cake,” said O’Neill. “That’s an instance in which an egg white is really a perfect ingredient because of its foaming abilities, so we’re really excited that we can help there.
“The tough thing is, it really depends on customer,” she added. “Some people will stick to their existing formula and just pass on the extra costs to the end consumer.”
Whole egg replacement about stability, not cost reduction
When it comes to egg replacers versus whole eggs, cost is much less of a deciding factor for customers, O'Neill says, as whole eggs remain a comparatively cheap protein source. In those cases, shelf life (compared to liquid eggs) and consistency/stability are the key purchasing drivers for egg replacers.
“When you think about a cake, it has air cell structures inside, partly from the egg, which causes emulsification to make the structures more uniform. Our protein is really consistent compared to a whole egg, which is 75% water, so it’s great for products like snack cakes that go through lot of turns and get cut pretty small in the production process. Our product lends strength to prevent cracking.”
Often the egg replacers are used together with eggs to get the best end result. “We’ve done 75%, even 100% replacement, but most times, it’s 50-50,” O’Neill said. “It’s the synergy between eggs and our products that makes the end product stronger yet tender.”
With 93% of consumers saying they prefer to see familiar ingredients on food labels, according to the 2013 International Food Information Council “Health and Wellness” annual survey, eggs are tough to beat as a clean-label ingredient. But O’Neill argued that Arla’s products are all derived from milk and are free of additives.
“We do tout egg replacers as clean label because they’re milk-based whey protein concentrates,” O’Neill said.
“Most customers accept that and consumers accept it because they know what it is and it comes from milk. We don’t add any starch.”