The US egg market stabilized in early 2016 after the commodity’s price reached its all-time high in August 2015 due to avian influenza. Since then, fewer egg replacement products have entered the market, Shelly McKee, AEB's technical consultant, told this site at IFT held in Las Vegas recently.
“We have a good, sustainable domestic egg supply right now, and there hasn’t been a spread of avian influenza like the one we saw in 2015,” she said.
In August 2015, the egg farm price peaked at $2.39 per dozen, the highest since April 2013, according to USDA data. It has since decreased to $0.61 per dozen in May 2017.
“What that means is food formulators are going to look less at egg alternatives, but it really depends on the applications,” said McKee. “We did hear egg replacers are picking up part of the pasta market.”
Demand for vegan
The egg price drop may affect the egg substitute market to a certain degree, but plant-based egg producers argue that avian influenza is not the entire reason why they still hold stakes in the market.
“The need for a high quality, nutritious egg replacer that works for the baking industry is not completely dependent on the egg [price],” said Kee Ann Mulfinger, product manager at Sioux Natural.
“Many consumers choose to avoid eggs because they follow vegan or vegetarian diets or have egg allergies.”
Sioux Natural is an Iowa-based vegan egg developer that targets the wholesale baking industry.
“Protein possibilities continue to pursue the ingredient market, not retail,” said Mulfinger. “Our long-term goal is to market vegan eggs for commercial use.”
Functionality of eggs
The AEB analyzed the influence of eggs in 15 baked goods earlier this year and found eggs perform more than one function compared to a replacer.
“Food formulators who choose egg alternatives may have to look at more than one replacer to get the full functionality of an egg,” said McKee.