Fi Global Insights is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Cracking the egg replacement conundrum

Article-Cracking the egg replacement conundrum

Adobe / keliwa1a egg-replacement.jpg
Egg replacement options are increasing all the time, but reformulating to remove eggs from recipes rarely boils down to a single ingredient solution, says RSSL product development expert Carole Bingley.

Cost and availability issues - along with the plant-based opportunity - are motivating manufacturers to look at replacing eggs in a range of products. However, this is no easy feat as eggs perform multiple functions in many products, according to Carole Bingley, technical specialist at Reading Scientific Services Limited (RSSL).

Addressing a webinar audience, she examined at how product reformulation can help manufacturers to manage rising costs and ingredient scarcity issues, using egg replacement as a case study.

“Eggs are incredible in terms of the functionality they bring - from aeration to binding, emulsification, gelling properties and moisture retention. Often, they perform more than one function in a recipe,” said Bingley.

Therefore, she advised starting any egg replacement project by understanding the role or roles the egg performs in that product, then ascertaining whether the requirement is for partial or full replacement.

Full or partial replacement?

“When reformulating for cost or availability reasons, it might be more appropriate to go for partial replacement as you are managing your exposure but still benefitting from some of the egg functionality. However, if you are wanting the product to be suitable for vegans or to remove allergens, full egg replacement will be the best route.”

The cost of ingredients is an important consideration too, she said.

“You want to ensure that whatever ingredient you select doesn’t bring additional cost into the formulation. More and more we are finding that a system approach is most appropriate for egg replacement - there are very few ingredients that can act as a one-for-one substitute. That comes back to the multi-functionality of eggs,” noted Bingley.

What are the options?

She highlighted a number of egg replacement options, starting with whey protein concentrates and starches. 

“Whey protein concentrates work well in bakery applications for partial replacement but you are adding a milk protein that won’t be suitable for vegans. Starches can provide viscosity and emulsification. Emulsifiers are often used in combination with other ingredients because emulsification is one of the most important properties of egg,” she said.  

Alpha-cyclodextrin is another option that offers “interesting aeration properties” but is “less desirable in terms of clean labelling”, according to Bingley.

She also highlighted fibres, aquafaba, potato protein and chlorella flour as possible alternatives, saying: “Fibres can help to provide viscosity and stabilisation of the foam in baked goods and are often seen as clean label ingredients; aquafaba is well known in domestic cooking as an alternative - it works well in meringue products but I have found that in bakery applications you need to use it in combination with other ingredients.”

Turning to potato protein and chlorella flour, she said: “Potato protein has some very interesting properties in terms of gelling and aeration - it is often used in meat alternatives to help bind the product but can also be used in bakery applications.”

She continued: “Chlorella flour is new to the market but is showing some potential for egg replacement and is available as a white or yellow flour so you are not impacting the colour of the final product.”

Fermentation: the future

Looking to the future, she said there are a number of companies working on precision fermentation techniques to produce egg proteins.

“The benefit is that these are identical to the proteins in eggs so in applications they should give a close match to the egg you are looking to replace,” she said.

However, she pointed out that these new technologies are expensive to scale up so it might be that initially they are not as cost beneficial as they could be.

“Precision fermentation is a particularly interesting option, but it will take some time before the technology is scaled up and through the regulatory procedures,” she noted.

But what it demonstrates is growing investment by the ingredient industry in the development of egg replacements, according to Bingley.

“I am seeing companies putting a lot more work into this area. There was some interest when it was just about the vegan opportunity, but now the opportunity is growing and manufacturers are looking at replacing eggs in their main products - not just in plant-based brand extensions.

“We are seeing more and more ingredient options coming through and I think the real winner will be blending those ingredients because we know eggs aren’t simple.”