Egg prices are going through an extended period of volatility. Over the past two years, the sector has been hit by scares involving Salmonella and fipronil in the US and Europe. These contamination cases resulted in fluctuating supply levels and pricing. Outbreaks of avian influenza have augmented the issue. Adding to this uncertain climate, Arla highlighted fears that the EU could be preparing to place import levies on egg powder in 2019.
As a result, Arla has “absolutely” seen a jump in demand for ingredients that can be used to substitute eggs, particularly from the bakery sector. “A long history of fluctuating prices and, more recently, a series of supply crises are increasingly making eggs a target for replacement. The challenge for bakers is how to control the cost and quality of their cake products while satisfying the many consumers who still regard eggs as a natural and desirable ingredient,” Aparecido Silveira, Industry Marketing Manager for Bakery at Arla Foods Ingredients, told FoodNavigator.
The group, the ingredients arm of dairy cooperative Arla Foods, claimed it substituted as many as 300m eggs last year and predicted it will record higher levels of demand throughout 2018.
Egg replacement calculator
In order to assist bakers seeking an alternative to eggs, Arla has developed an online calculator that allows bakers to assess savings that could be made if they substitute eggs with whey proteins.
The group said that its whey protein brand Nutrilac delivers a “natural safe and highly functional” solution and is designed to replace up to 50% of the eggs in a cake recipe. Arla stressed that this option delivers stable supply and pricing, meaning that food makers gain greater control over their raw material costs.
But Silveira claimed that Nutrilac is about more than cost cutting. He insisted that sensory tests show the ingredient delivers taste and texture benefits as well.
“Trained sensory panels have evaluated the performance of pound cakes where 50% of the egg was replaced either by a whey-based Nutrilac solution or a standard whey protein concentrate (WPC). Both recipes were compared with a reference cake with 100% egg inclusion. As the spider diagram [above] shows, Nutrilac performed better than WPC on all counts, highlighting the importance of using a tailored protein solution. The cake with Nutrilac also scored higher than the reference cake for crumb moistness, homogeneity and resilience (springiness) and for having a less fragile crumb, which supports sliceability and depanning.
“Our goal was to develop a price-stable egg substitute with similar properties to egg. In fact, sensory evaluations show that Nutrilac delivers a number of quality improvements. Cakes keep a moister, fresher feel during shelf life, and the crumb is less fragile and more resilient. There are several processing advantages too.”