Plant-based food options are increasingly becoming a fixture in supermarket and restaurant aisles, and Yo! Egg is springing into action, set to launch in US restaurants this year with what CEO Eran Groner says is “the world’s first plant-based poached and sun-kissed eggs.”
The global market for plant-based eggs is expected to grow an average of 27% year over year by 2027 to reach a value of just under $800 million, up from $148 million in 2020.
The Israel-based company was founded by Groner in 2019. He had been in agriculture and food technology for the last 20 years. He sensed there was a blank space in the plant-based shellfish and egg space and began looking at the issues, especially the amount of water needed to produce each bird’s egg — 53 gallons, Groner said.
“Not to mention the diseases,” he added. “In April we learned that the CDC recorded a case of a person who tested positive for avian influenza. That is a disease that, for a long time, it was thought could not be transmitted to humans. Those are big problems that I’ve been passionate about solving, and I know the only way to solve them is to get the animals out of the building.”
It was then that he met one of his co-founders, Yosefa Ben Cohen, who was a vegan and long-time chef working on restaurant solutions, and the idea for Yo! Egg (Groner chose “yo” to mean “wow”) emerged.
Most of the startups tackling this space, including Perfeggt, Simply Eggless, and Eat Just, started out with powdered and liquid varieties, but Yo! Egg pursues the more challenging “whole egg” experience, having developed an egg white and yolk for consumers who like the taste and texture of that style of eggs but prefer a more sustainable, cholesterol-free option.
I! Egg is already on the market in Israel, starting out as a breakfast chain that primarily serves birds’ eggs.
“We could have easily picked a vegan place and played it safe, but no, we picked the hardest one, which is a hard-boiled egg place, serving breakfast of all kinds,” Groner said. “They were willing to put us on our menu after trying our product. We’ve been there since December and now we’ve also reached out to major tech companies, like Google and Facebook, and some hotels and other food service operations.”
Boosted by $5 million in seed funding, the company will showcase its products at the National Restaurant Association trade show in Chicago next week.
After the trade show, Groner hopes to have Yo! Egg products on menus in the Los Angeles area for the end of the year. The company will also use the funds to scale fried and poached products and to start work on hard-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs and home baking solutions.
Product development is virtually complete and the company has been able to grow from three full-time employees to 10 in recent months, Groner said.
Scaling up is a challenge with plant-based protein products and other alternative products, and Groner says Yo! Egg has not been without its challenges. The company had to design its own equipment, which required many iterations, and has already developed a third prototype. He expects the final design to produce 50,000 eggs per day, up from the current 6,000 eggs per day.
“Our vision is to create the world’s largest egg company, not an alternative egg company, and not the largest plant-based egg company, but the largest chicken-free egg company,” Groner added. “If we want to do that, we have to move as quickly as possible. That was the main reason we wanted to raise venture capital.”
Meanwhile, the seed round was co-led by NFX and Stray Dog Capital with participation from Surround Ventures and Secret Chord Ventures.
“With over 95 billion eggs consumed each year in the US, and each egg requires 53 gallons of water to produce, we need a better solution,” Stray Dog Capital partner Jonny Ream said in a statement. . “After trying Yo! Egg, we knew this company could change the world. We are proud to support their work and excited to see their eggs on menus everywhere.”