Startup aims to replace chicken, egg
SAN FRANCISCO — The startup is housed in a garagelike space in San Francisco's tech-heavy South of Market neighborhood, but it isn't like most of its neighbors that develop software, websites and mobile phone apps.
Its mission is to find plant replacements for eggs.
Inside, research chefs bake cookies and cakes, whip up batches of flavored mayonnaise and pan-fry omelets and French toast — without eggs.
Funded by prominent Silicon Valley investors and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Hampton Creek Foods seeks to disrupt a global egg industry that backers say wastes energy, pollutes the environment, causes disease outbreaks and confines chickens to tiny spaces.
The company, which recently started selling its first product — Just Mayo mayonnaise — at Whole Foods Markets, is part of a new generation of so-called food-tech ventures that aim to change the way we eat.
“There's nothing to indicate that this will be a trend that will end anytime soon,” said Anand Sanwal, CEO of CB Insights, a New York firm that tracks venture capital investment. “Sustainability and challenges to the food supply are pretty fundamental issues.”
Venture capital firms, which invest heavily in early-stage technology companies, poured almost $350 million into food-related startups last year, compared with less than $50 million in 2008, according to the firm.
Plant-based alternatives to eggs, poultry and other meat could be good for the environment because it could reduce consumption of meat, which requires large amounts of land, water and crops to produce, backers said.
It could benefit people's health, especially in heavy meat-eating countries like the United States, and reduce outbreaks of diseases such as avian flu, they say.
“The biggest challenge is that people who consume a lot of meat really like meat, and to convince them to try something different may be extremely difficult,” said Claire Kremen, faculty co-director of the Berkeley Food Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.
The American Egg Board, which represents producers, said eggs can't be replaced.
“Our customers have said they're not interested in egg substitutes. They want real, natural eggs with their familiar ingredients,” said Mitch Kanter, executive director of the board-funded Egg Nutrition Center.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 8th-grader gets venture capital for inexpensive Braille-printer
- Decoding mutual funds jargon
- As banking goes mobile, branch closures rip through local economy
- Plus-size fashion bloggers recruited
- Cheap gas lets small business dream big
- No more room on iPad? You’ll need to trim some of that fat
- Employers prepare for demographic shift
- Taxpayer clinics fill IRS void
- Subaru BRZ still needs upgrades
- Super Bowl ads win by playing to viewers’ emotions, experts say
- Pennsylvania shale gas producers received hundreds of environmental citations in 4 years, PennEnvironment says