By Allergen Bureau

The rise of the egg-free egg

Egg allergies are one of several key drivers of the vegan egg market. A recent review suggests that while the vegan egg market is still in its relative infancy, it is expected to enjoy a compound annual growth rate of 8.3 per cent over the next decade.

Vegan eggs are mostly used as substitutes of eggs in bakery products, desserts, and confectionary. The mayonnaise segment is estimated to account for a value share of around 38 per cent in the global market, whereas bakery products are estimated to account for over 26 per cent.

While replicating all the nutrients and functionalities of egg with one product may not be realistic, plant-based ingredients can be used, alone or in combination, as adequate egg replacements to meet demand in egg-free markets.

In assessing the labels on marketed vegan eggs, the reviewers found over 80 per cent claim to have low/no/reduced allergens, including 66 per cent and 19 per cent claiming to be gluten-free and low/no/reduced lactose, respectively.

Current research in this field was found to be scarce and primarily focused on making mixtures of plant-based ingredients to fit specific food formulations. From 2016 to 2021, 102 new vegan egg products were launched in the global market.

By region, North America accounts for 48 per cent of the global vegan egg market, with sales of around US$476.6 million by the end of 2021. Sales in Europe are increasing as more products are reformulated to provide meat alternatives.

Egg replacements are often made from proteins deriving from pea, lentil, lupine, and chickpea. As well as having high nutritional value, pulses are known for their affordability and sustainability. Proteins from pulses in either their native or modified forms can offer egg-like functionalities such as gelling, emulsification, and foaming. Different forms of these proteins are available, including flours, protein concentrate, or isolates.

Creating egg substitutes to replace egg functionality and nutritional properties is a challenging task due to the multi-functionality of eggs that impact the taste, texture, and the overall appeal of food products. The reviewers feel in-depth market studies are required to capture this emerging market’s challenges and opportunities. Consumer studies are needed to evaluate the sensorial properties of different vegan egg formulations in comparison to regular eggs to provide a further understanding of the preferences and acceptability of consumers.

Reference: Boukid & Gagaoua, 2022. FoodsVol. 11(161). DOI: 10.3390/foods11020161 Access the full article here.