Such dairy products as ice cream, custard and eggnog all rely on egg ingredients.

Applications beyond baked goods

Many prepared foods historically have relied on egg products. Any manufacturer who uses eggs is looking for other options right now, Mr. Gelley of Arla Foods said.

“We’re even seeing growing demand in the meat sector, for products such as sausages, meat and fish balls, and in Asian cuisine, such as surimi products,” he said.

Jennifer Stephens, director of marketing, Fiberstar, River Falls, Wis., said, “The easiest food products to swap real eggs with egg replacers are those products not requiring foaming or high-emulsification functionality. These food applications require moisture retention, structure formation and binding, which several egg replacers provide while still maintaining the quality of the product.

“For example, our citrus fiber provides not only these functionalities, but also exerts natural emulsification stabilization. It can be used alone or in conjunction with guar or xanthan gum for higher performance.”

Sometimes it takes a combination of ingredients to achieve that egg-like function.

“Our egg replacers are really ‘food systems,’ proprietary blends of ingredients that provide the functionality of whole eggs and allow formulators to develop egg-free or reduced-egg products,” said Jon Stratford, sales and marketing manager, Natural Products Inc., Grinnell, Iowa. “Not only do these systems work in bakery, they can be used in emulsions such as salad dressings, in replacement of whole eggs or yolks, and at up to 100% with very good results.

“Recently we have focused our R.&D. on some novel applications. We were able to replace all of the eggs in chicken breading. The finished product actually retained better moisture after frying than when eggs were in the formulation. With both corn dog batter and cheesecake, we were able to replace 100% of the eggs with a few minor adjustments in added water.”

The shortage affects many dairy companies because ice cream, frozen custard, eggnog and some refrigerated desserts all rely on egg ingredients. To assist on the beverage side, St. Louis-based SensoryEffects, a division of Balchem, developed new eggnog alternatives.

“Our powder bases deliver the flavor and richness of traditional eggnogs in efficient, low egg, holiday nog formulations,” said Tiffany Pailer, marketing communications manager.

Gums may be used to reduce the amount of liquid eggs in products like omelets and quiche.

“The level of usage reduction depends on the formulation, thermal processing and original usage level of eggs,” said Donna Klockeman, senior principal food scientist at TIC Gums. “The addition of hydrocolloids will also aid in moisture management and freeze/thaw stability.

“When eggs are used in sauces, for example as a thickener and emulsifier, they can be easily swapped with a hydrocolloid blend that combines the emulsification of gum acacia with the thickening power of xanthan gum.”

Heather Penney, senior technical specialist with Cargill, said, “In creamy soups, sauces and dressings, eggs are used for emulsification in addition to viscosity.

“We offer modified food starches that can replace all of the egg yolks typically used in these applications,” she said. “These modified starches also enhance the overall stability of the product as they offer additional syneresis control. In some cases, flavor and color tweaks may be required to maintain the appearance and flavor of the original product, but it is not difficult to achieve.”

MGP Ingredients’ wheat-based egg replacement ingredients work in an array of food products.

In creamy soups, sauces and dressings, eggs are used for emulsification in addition to viscosity.

“Our wheat protein isolates can replace up to 100% of the egg white in pasta,” Mr. Whitmer said. “The ingredient provides gelling functions and improves retorted pasta firmness through strengthening of the protein network.

“In surimi, these ingredients can replace up to half of the egg white in the formula, as they provide a firm and elastic texture. They can also create a foam, which allows them to replace up to half of the whole egg in ice cream products.”

Algal flour is a new ingredient concept that may function as an egg replacer.

“Our whole algal flour is a high lipid powder that can efficiently replace or reduce egg yolks, oil and dairy fats in many product formulations,” said Sally Aaron, marketing director for Solazyme, South San Francisco, Calif. “It is a whole food ingredient containing oil, fiber, protein, starch and micronutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin. This unique combination of nutrients means formulators can mimic many of the functional properties of eggs with a single ingredient versus a combination of many different ingredients. It’s fewer ingredients to put into their formulations as they look to replace or reduce their reliance on eggs.”

The company identified three egg yolk functions that the ingredient is capable of mimicking. Emulsification comes from the naturally occurring phospholipids and mono- and diglycerides within the ingredient. Full body mouthfeel comes from the interaction of the oil, starches and fibers.

“Lastly, moisture control is due to the presence of fibers, starches and polysaccharides in the ingredient,” Ms. Aaron said. “Whole algal flour can completely remove butter, oil and egg yolks in formulating Alfredo sauce. The reformulated sauce cuts cholesterol in half, reduces total fat by 40% and reduces saturated fat by 30%, while maintaining texture, mouthfeel and overall flavor.”

With so many and varied egg replacers in the market, there’s likely an ingredient suitable for every application. The sky is no longer falling.