Within plant-based, certain categories are booming – notably meat analogues and dairy alternatives.
Innovation in the plant-based egg segment has been slower to take off. But with 1.3trn eggs consumed annually, and Europe accounting for 110bn alone, German start-up Perfeggt is keen to enter this ‘untapped’ market it says has ‘enormous growth potential’.
Its plant-based liquid egg alternative, made from proteins and lipids of various plants, is designed to be fried in a pan just like traditional scrambled eggs or an omelette.
Having recently closed a $2.8m funding round, the start-up hopes to sell its first egg alternatives on the European market by early next year.
Rethinking the egg
The dominant plant protein in Perfeggt’s first alt egg product comes from the fava bean.
“We know that consumer taste is key. That is why we are laser-focused on matching the right plant-based proteins and lipids that allow us to replicate the exceedingly complex multifunctional and versatile characteristics of an egg and its indistinguishable taste,” Perfeggt co-founder and CEO Tanja Bogumil told FoodNavigator.
So how exactly does the start-up achieve an egg-like texture? As well as appearance, mouthfeel and taste?
“The egg is really a miracle product because it’s so versatile in its application. And the same goes for its taste and texture,” said Bogumil.
“That’s why our multidisciplinary international team, consisting of pioneers and specialists in alternative proteins, is intensively involved in researching plant protein sources and their combinations to replicate that.”
Perfeggt is also relying on a ‘data-driven analytical approach’ to product development, and decoding similarities in plants and animal products at its R&D site in Emsland, Germany.
“We apply this information to create foods with plant proteins that are impressive in their texture, smell and full flavour,” the CEO explained.
“This methodical process allows us to continuously improve our product and develop even more plant-based egg applications.”
Nutritional and sustainability profile
Eggs are a good source of protein, choline, vitamin B12, phosphorous and riboflavin, While the health profile of eggs has been debated over the years for their cholesterol levels – depending on the size of the egg, one can contain between 141-186 mg of cholesterol – they are otherwise considered very beneficial to human health.
Perfeggt’s intention is to mimic egg's goodness, but in plant-based form.
“Eggs are one of the most consumed and popular animal proteins worldwide,” said Bogumil. “They are not only part of a nutritional, low-carb diet, [but also] a staple food in most households that’s easy to prepare.
“And this is exactly what we are offering with Perfeggt: a tasty plant-based egg that matches the nutritional profile of the animal version.”
From a sustainability perspective, eggs are considerably more climate-friendly than meat proteins beef, lamb, pork and chicken. Its carbon emissions are also lower than those emitted by seafood, a chocolate bar, cheese, milk and beer.
Perfeggt’s egg alternative is more environmentally sustainable still. “Perfeggt is a sustainable alternative to a chicken egg and is in line with several of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations,” we were told.
Compared to the production of a single chicken egg, the production of a comparable alternative egg substitute is thought to use an estimated 95% less freshwater resources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 74.3%, and require less than half the amount of farmland.
The CEO continued: “Perfeggt is pioneering innovative food technologies and [working] to build a sustainable food system and contribute to the paradigm shift within the food industry, one in which consumers don’t have to compromise on ethics, taste or sustainability.”
Route to market
Perfeggt is not the first plant-based egg substitute in the space.
In the US, JUST Egg is making a plant-based scrambled egg alternative from mung bean protein, Israeli start-up Zero Egg is using a variety of plant-based proteins, including from chickpea, pea, soy and potato, to make its substitute for the food manufacturing industry, and UK-based CRACkD makes its ‘no-egg egg’ from pea protein.
“Every competitor helps to change the paradigm in egg consumption, to convince consumers of a sustainable egg alternative and thus to produce and consume less chicken eggs,” said Bogumil.
So how is Perfeggt setting itself apart? “What makes us different from other players is the fact that we’re 100% European – we understand the consumers’ taste buds and standards when it comes to food and meal plans.
“That’s why we also know how to create the perfect plant-based equivalents to the animal-based version.”
Having recently closed its first financing round, Perfeggt is laying out commercialisation plans.
The $2.8m round was led by EVIG Group, Stray Dog Capital, E²JDJ, Tet Ventures, Good Seed Ventures, Sustainable Food Ventures, and Shio Capital.
To begin with, the start-up is targeting the foodservice market. Having already secured ‘the right partners’ for market launch, Bogumil said its product will launch early 2022 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
“Further European markets, as well as a launch into retail, will follow soon after in the coming months.”