As Bird Flu Ravages South Korea’s Egg Industry, Just’s Vegan Egg Arrives

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Just Egg is continuing its Asian expansion, launching in South Korea, where there’s currently an egg shortage as a result of the avian flu.

With an egg shortage that could last well into 2022, egg prices are on the rise across South Korea. San Francisco-based Just Egg is hoping to capitalize on it, bringing its vegan, mung-bean egg first to foodservice, through a distribution partnership with the bakery café chains Paris Baguette and Paris Croissant.

According to the ‘2019 Food Balance Sheet’ published by the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI) earlier this month (August 12), annual egg consumption in South Korea stood at 10.8kg per capita (approx. 29.6g daily) in 2019, with a 0.2kg increase year over year. Eat Just says that to their knowledge, this is the first plant-based egg to launch in the country.

South Korean expansion

The move comes after a strategic partnership agreement was announced with SPC Samlip, South Korea’s leading food company. The vegan egg is being manufactured by SPC in Cheongju.

Eat Just has been focusing on the Asian market in recent years. Last October, it announced the launch of a $120 million warehouse—its largest production facility in Singapore.

As Bird Flu Ravages South Korea's Egg Industry, Just's Vegan Egg Arrives

“This partnership will further accelerate our path to become one of the world’s largest producers of eggs in the next decade,” Eat Just co-founder Josh Tetrick said in a statement last year. “Proterra’s experience across sourcing and manufacturing will be invaluable. Consumer demand, driven by health, food security and food safety, is creating an environment of extraordinary opportunity for this unique partnership.”

The Singapore announcement built on the brand’s presence across Hong Kong, where its been a long-time partner with Green Monday—the campaign encourages plant-based food, assisting retailers and restaurants in showcasing vegan items, including its own chain, Green Common.

Just Egg launched in China in early 2019, making it the first U.S.-based food tech startup to enter mainland China. It partnered with distributors including the largest online retailer in the country, JD.com, as well as platforms owned by Alibaba including food delivery service Hema and e-commerce platform Tmall.com.

South Korea’s bird flu outbreak

According to the Korea Herald, outbreaks of the H5N8 strain of bird flu have not been reported by farmers since April. But the government forced the culling of more than 16 million chickens as a preventative measure.

The outbreak hit more than 100 farms across South Korea.

The culling and threats of the virus spreading across the region sent egg prices skyrocketing. Prices started climbing in the spring—after the first outbreak—with some markets seeing spikes nearing on 70 percent. While prices have dropped from the May high, the shortages have kept demand and prices high for eggs.

Global expansion

Earlier this week, Just also announced its first distribution into South Africa, a country of more than 58 million. It’s the nation’s first commercially available vegan egg.

The frozen folded egg will be available first in greater Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban.

“We are grateful to our team of innovators who bring novel ideas to life that positively impact society and the environment and Infinite Foods is the ideal partner for our expansion into this market. They bring invaluable expertise to reach the African consumer and have the value chain to support us in delivering this ground-breaking product to consumers at home and in restaurants,” Tetrick said in a statement.

“South Africa is an important new market for us, and we cannot wait to see how consumers use this product in new and delicious ways.”


Lead image courtesy of Eat Just.


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