KANSAS CITY — Avoiding the market volatility of egg and egg ingredient prices remains a primary reason for choosing alternative ingredients. Other goals to consider are consumer demand for plant-based, vegan or dairy-free products.
When food companies seek to reduce or replace egg ingredients, they increasingly are showing interest in plant-based options as well as single-ingredient options, said Jon Stratford, sales and marketing manager for Natural Products Inc., Grinnell, Iowa.
“Many of the commercial egg replacers are blends, which can force food makers to lengthen their ingredient statements,” he said.
Chickpeas are showing promise in plant-based ingredients used as egg replacers.
“In the last couple of years, the supply of chickpeas and chickpea ingredients has grown exponentially,” Mr. Stratford said. “By now, most people have heard of aquafaba, which is the water drained from the cans of chickpeas. Aquafaba has amazing foaming properties, and possibly one day when it is available in industrial quantities, it might be used to replace egg whites in baked goods and other foods.”
Chickpea flour may be used now as an egg ingredient alternative.
“A stabilized chickpea flour such as our steamed chickpea flour can be used to reduce eggs by 50% in industrial cream cakes and other sweet baked goods, without much tweaking of the formulation required and without impacting flavor or eating properties,” Mr. Stratford said. “I expect we will continue to see R.&D. with chickpea flour as well as other bean-based ingredients as tools to eliminate animal proteins in a wide variety of food categories.”
An example of dairy-free comes from the Function Plus 250W ingredient from Corbion. It is designed specifically to replace up to 30% of egg whites in chemically leavened cakes like angel food cake, said Kathy Sargent, strategic innovation director, bakery, for Corbion and based in Lenexa, Kas.
“It’s also free of dairy, which makes it ideal when developing sweet baked goods for consumers with dairy allergies/intolerances,” she said. “Unlike other egg replacers on the market today, Function Plus 250W allows manufacturers to sharply reduce the amount of egg whites used in certain formulations while maintaining product taste and consistency.”
Other Function Plus ingredients from Corbion include Function Plus 150W, which has been shown to replace 50% to 100% of egg whites in sweet baked foods like cakes and chemically leavened batters; Function Plus 100, which has been shown to replace 25% to 75% of whole eggs in sweet baked foods, including cakes and chemically leavened batters; and Function Plus 200, which has been shown to replace 50% to 100% of whole eggs in sweet baked foods, including cakes and chemically leavened batters.
“Recent Salmonella outbreaks and egg recalls have also increased demand for egg replacers in the bakery segment,” Ms. Sargent said. “One of the areas where we have seen the biggest push for egg replacers is in clean label formulations, especially sweet baked goods and chemically leavened cakes like angel food cake.”
Formulators might be able to create vegan items when replacing egg ingredients. Vegan baking has become more mainstream, said Nesha Zalesny, technical sales manager for Fiberstar, Inc., River Falls, Wis.
“Vegan emulsified sauces are more common today, too,” she said. “Typically, lecithin is a go-to emulsifier, but these ingredients are not necessarily clean label or allergen-free. Citri-Fi, a natural functional fiber with emulsification properties, is a great alternative to egg or chemical emulsifiers in various applications.”
Citri-Fi functional fiber is created from the fibrous material left over from the citrus juicing industry.
“This material is comprised of the whole fiber, with the native pectin, cellulose, hemicellulose and protein intact,” Ms. Zalesny said. “Due to the high surface area, it has unique water-holding and emulsifying properties. Citri-Fi will hold 7 to 10 times its weight in water and will emulsify nearly double that in oil. Water-holding and emulsification are some of the key properties of egg in baked goods, and the emulsification properties are valuable in emulsified sauces and dressings. Its native properties give Citri-Fi a place in egg reduction and replacement across many categories.”
Another egg ingredient alternative, Huevo NS from Brolite Products, Bartlett, Ill., offers allergen-free benefits as it is both egg-free and soy-free, said David DelGhingaro, president of Brolite Products. Huevo NS contains a blend of emulsifiers, gums, coloring agents, strengtheners and pH modifiers
“Huevo NS will work well in all baked products, except in angel food, meringues and egg washes,” Mr. DelGhingaro said. “In cakes, it will be able to replace about 30% of the eggs in the formula.”
It does not require refrigeration or thawing.
“It’s easy to scale, and it doesn’t add additional allergens to a formula,” Mr. DelGhingaro said. “Because of this, no clean out between runs is required. It’s also more cost-effective than eggs.”
Egg and egg ingredient prices have tended to rise and fall quickly in recent years. Food formulators still remember the avian flu outbreak of 2015, Ms. Zalesny said. Grade A large eggs were selling 100.5@115c per dozen on Oct. 19 of this year, but those prices topped $3 per dozen in 2015.
“There are many industry experts saying the next (avian flu) bout is not a matter of if, but when,” Ms. Zalesny said. “Many of the larger scale bakeries have egg reduction as back-burner projects to mitigate risk for this reason.”
Arla Foods Ingredients, Aarhus, Denmark, now offers an online calculator that allows companies to determine how much they would save in costs by switching to Nutrilac whey protein egg replacers from egg ingredients. The calculator shows the price per measurement, like a kilogram, of the specific egg ingredient, the price of the egg replacement, and the savings. Yearly savings may be found by providing the amount of egg ingredients used in production and the average egg replacement level, with 50% being an example.