San-Francisco-based Eat Just has received approval from the European Commission for its vegan mung-bean-based egg popular in the U.S.
Eat Just will move into the European market later this year following the approval for its novel plant-based egg that looks, cooks, and tastes like chicken eggs.
“Forward-thinking consumers in Europe have been asking for JUST Egg since the day it launched in the U.S. Whether because of climate change, health, or a connection to animals, the demand has been significant as has interest from retail and foodservice partners. I’m grateful for the recent approval, which opens the door to begin distribution across Europe before the end of the year,” Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just, said in a statement.
Eat Just, which was the first company to earn regulatory approval for its cultivated meat in Singapore in 2020, says European consumers are eager for more vegan options. It says the plant-based egg category is “one of the biggest areas of opportunity.”
The market is indeed on the upswing, with sales of plant-based food across the bloc reaching €3.6 billion in 2020, a 28 percent jump from 2019 and nearly 50 percent up from 2018.
According to a report published by ProVeg International in 2020, stand-alone egg alternatives represent a major market opportunity.
Eat Just says government programs such as the European Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy also support a shift to more plant-based food both for human health and sustainability. It points to industry groups like the European Alliance for Plant-Based Foods, which have called upon the Commission, the European Parliament, and member states to “enable the plant-based food sector to grow and contribute to tackling climate change, public health and other issues.”
The announcement also comes on the heels of the third installment of the IPCC’s sixth climate report. The report stressed the need to reduce emissions, citing a 33 percent drop in methane by the end of the decade as critical to keeping global temperatures below the 1.5°C target established in 2015 by the Paris Climate Accord. Methane traps more heat than carbon and is predominantly a byproduct of factory farming.
Tetrick and the Eat Just team anticipate a fourth-quarter E.U. launch for Just Egg. Its approval by the Commission and the European Free Trade Association also gives the company a five-year window as the only mung-bean-based egg allowed in the E.U. unless those companies obtain authorization through the same novel food application process, the company said.
“Mung bean protein is the first novel legume protein to be deemed safe under the regime that has governed all new food ingredients entering Europe since May 1997,” Eat Just said.
The company collaborated with the consultancy and clinical research providers at Analyze & Realize GmbH on its European Commission and EFSA submissions. Eat Just says it’s also working with the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency to achieve regulatory approval there as well.
If Eat Just’s U.S. sales are indicative of the potential in the E.U. market, it should see success; the plant-based egg category grew 42 percent in 2021 according to data from the Plant Based Foods Association, the Good Food Institute, and data collection agency SPINS. Since 2019, plant-based egg sales in the U.S. have grown more than 1,000 percent, with Just Egg owning 99 percent of the market.