Hampton Creek Announces Just Scramble

Hampton Creek’s has announced the arrival of their plant-based egg product, Just Scramble. The product is already receiving high marks from reviewers for both its taste and texture, and should be hitting store shelves next year.

While today Hampton Creek is best known for it’s Just Mayo product, they actually started as a vegan egg company. The first time I heard of Hampton Creek, they were working on a revolutionary product called “Beyond Eggs.” But the company quickly pivoted, and decided to use the knowledge they’d gained to create Just Mayo. It turned out to be a great decision. Just Mayo was a perfect-tasting product that could compete with traditional mayonnaise on both price and flavour.

Better than the “Real” Thing, Baby

Just Mayo changed the game for plant-based foods. It demonstrated that, with enough time, determination and research, a vegan product could be as good – or better – than the “real” thing. Because while a determined vegan might be willing to give up a product they love to save the animals, or the environment – or their own health – most people simply won’t. The average person wants all the pleasure with none of the sacrifice. And who can blame them?

Of course, just as most people aren’t willing to give up their favourite foods unless they can get something even better in return, entrenched interests are even more reticent to give up their seat at the table. The egg industry fought hard against Just Mayo. They poured their considerable resources into discrediting the company, and even went so far as to joke about hiring a hitman to go after CEO Josh Tetrick.

In the words of one reviewer from Forbes:

This was better than just about any egg I had ever tasted, and it was made from a 4,000-year-old bean. My mind was blown.

Just Scramble: Not “Just” For Vegans

Will vegans be rushing out to buy Just Scramble? Probably not. But as Hampton Creek Foods’ CEO Josh Tetrick has demonstrated since the beginning, vegans are not the target market. Everyone is. In fact, one of the things I like best about Tetrick is his willingness to admit that while alleviating animal suffering is HIS primary motivation for working with plant-based foods, it doesn’t have to be everyone’s. There are many reasons to go beyond animal products. Veganism is one of them. 

Hampton Creek anticipates that they will be able to price Just Scramble similarly to traditional chicken eggs. Which is quite a feat, considering conventional hen’s eggs are kept affordable by massive concentrated animal feeding operations. And as Tetrick explains, it’s a lot easier to improve on a Just egg than to upgrade a traditional egg:

“While a chicken egg will never change, our idea is that we can have a product where we push updates into the system, just like Apple updates its iOS operating system.”

And, of course, as Hampton Creek tweaks its “egg” over time, the benefits will trickle down to the other “Just egg” products on store shelves, such as their mayo, dressings and cookie dough. And the company isn’t planning to stop there: ice cream, clean meat and butter are also in the works.

The Rise of Plant-Based Technological Innovation

My hope for Hampton Creek is that they will become the plant-based version of Kraft Foods. I hope Just Scramble is a tremendous hit, and that they’ll be able to continue to resist acquisition. Over the past few years, Josh Tetrick has proven his company’s ability to resist (and at times match) the continuous high-pressure tactics of the competition. Disrupting centuries-old industries is possible, but it won’t be easy.

Meat, eggs and dairy have enjoyed few-if any- serious challengers in the past. That is about to change. Unlike older plant-based companies, Hampton Creek is as much a technology company as it is a food company. And as we’ve seen before, technological innovation has a unique ability to grow markets.  I hope companies like Hampton Creek will lead the way to the future of food.

What do you think? Join the conversation!

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