The outlook for the egg industry isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and many food manufacturers are looking for ways to mitigate the risks of further volatile egg markets and potential supply chain disruption. As they seek alternatives in their formulations, many struggle to achieve the same characteristics, flavor and mouthfeel that eggs provide.
Replacing eggs in formulations isn’t an easy switch, especially when formulators need to still appeal to the growing number of consumers who demand wholesome ingredients and clean labels.
Here, we’ll provide an overview of the state of the egg industry, the growing challenges it faces, and why food manufacturers should consider whey protein substitutes for eggs as a viable alternative.
RELATED WHITEPAPER: Egg Replacement 101 with Specific Product Examples
Top Egg Market Risks for Food Manufacturers
Volatile Egg Markets. It’s hard to imagine an ingredient that has experienced more price volatility than eggs. In the quest for wholesome sources of protein and in response to pandemic demands, per capita consumption of eggs has increased over the last decade. Demand combined with cage-free initiatives are impacting pricing of all egg categories, including shell eggs, dried, frozen and liquid egg products for wholesale production.
During the height of the pandemic, demand for some forms of eggs tripled. Supply chain disruption caused inventories to fluctuate as well, sending prices rising and falling. Such volatility makes it difficult for food manufacturers to predict ingredient costs and ensure adequate inventories. Of note, pricing in 2022 is trending higher than previous years.
Avian Flu. After a six-year absence, Avian Flu was found in both non-commercial and domestic poultry flocks in early 2022 across several U.S. states, reviving fears of the largest-ever outbreak back in 2014 and 2015 when more than 50 million birds had to be destroyed.
Consequently, U.S. egg prices skyrocketed. The highly pathogenic avian influenza virus reared its head again in 2017 in Tennessee leading to the culling of more commercial flocks. The USDA is watching the situation closely for 2022, which has the potential to send prices soaring once again.
Cage-Free Movement. Consumers increasingly demand cruelty-free eggs when purchasing whole eggs for personal consumption at home in addition to those included in packaged foods. In response, hundreds of major retailers, restaurants and food processors have pledged to use only cage-free eggs by 2026.
The commitment to going cage-free may have been made prematurely, however. The number of cage-free facilities and laying hens is inadequate to meet the demands of those who’ve pledged to comply. As of March 2022, only 92.9 million hens were in cage-free production, less than half of the 221 million that must be in cage-free production to meet the demand, likely leading to higher prices.
How Whey Protein Revolutionized Food Production
In response to volatile markets and uncertainty over the future of the cage-free movement, food manufacturers are considering alternative price-stable ingredients. Eggs, however, possess many functional properties that are difficult to replicate in food engineering.
In sauces, dips and dressings, eggs serve as an emulsifier to create a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. In other formulations, it provides gelation, stabilization and texture building properties. While some starches and artificial gums can come close and have been used by some manufacturers, those ingredients no longer comply with clean labels insisted upon by consumers.
RELATED VIDEO: How to Use Whey Protein To Replace Eggs
Whey protein concentrate helped the food processing industry revolutionize the way it formulates products containing eggs while actually lowering ingredient prices and avoiding issues with spoilage.
This is due, in part, to whey protein’s shelf-stable form and its ability to replicate the functionality of eggs. Grande Bravo® functional whey protein, for example, provides structure, improves texture, has a long shelf life and can even provide surface browning and other functionality that other egg alternatives simply can’t.
An advantage of whey protein over plant-based proteins and other egg substitutes is its superior nutritional profile which contains high levels of branched-chain essential amino acids due to its natural protein content.
Food manufacturers and consumers alike insist on natural wholesome ingredients, but not at the expense of taste and texture. The ingredients offered by Grande Custom Ingredients Group provide clean flavor profiles that make them the perfect replacement for eggs in numerous creamy applications and baked goods.
Grande Bravo’s unique water-holding functionality and distinct textural properties also enable the replacement of several other ingredients including cream, butter, fat, and cream cheese while lowering fat and improving or maintaining the product’s natural mouthfeel, texture and flavor.
Examples of Whey Protein as an Egg Replacement
The team of food scientists at Grande Custom Ingredients Group sat down to create a salad dressing that used Grande Bravo as the primary emulsifier in place of eggs. Many commodity whey products and other egg replacements often result in clumping and viscosity breakdown. Grande Bravo provided the necessary water-holding capability needed to maintain its rich, creamy texture and mouthfeel.
Additional applications for functional whey protein concentrate include:
- Soups & Sauces
- Spreads & Dips
- Cheese Sauces & Fillings
- Low-Fat Foods
- Processed Meats
- Coatings & Seasonings
- Bakery & Confectionery
- Ice Cream & Desserts
- And More!
Learn more reasons why functional whey protein is an ideal ingredient for use in these types of applications. Access our eBook below. Also, be sure to talk to one of our food scientists with your questions and request a sample.