Brazil's Mantiqueira launches vegan egg N.Ovo

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

© Mantiqueira/Divulgação
© Mantiqueira/Divulgação

Related tags Plant-based foods

Brazil's biggest egg producer Grupo Mantiqueira has launched a plant-based vegan egg, N.Ovo, made with pea starch and plant protein.

The product is made with pea starch and plant-based proteins, and is sold in a traditional egg carton with the powder sealed in a bag inside.

The company said N.Ovo is a like-for-like replacement for eggs when they are used as a binding agent in cakes, bread, and other baked goods.

Grupo Mantiqueira launched the plant-based product at the Rio de Janeiro trade show, Super Rio Exfood, last week.

Similar products are available in Brazil but these are imported from abroad. N.Ovo will be the first consumer-facing egg replacement product to be produced and sold in Brazil. N.Ovo is also available in B2B formats.

Mantiqueira's R&D team is now testing a replacement for the 'everyday egg' that can be used to make scrambled eggs or omelettes.

The ingredient list

Pea starch, ground whole golden flaxseed, pea protein, calcium disphosphate, monocalcium phosphate, and sodium bicarbonate.

Mantiqueira worked closely with The Good Food Institute (GFI) to bring the product to market. It arranged an ‘innovation tour’ to visit companies and retailers in the US so Grupo Mantiqueira could see available products and to explore licensing or importing opportunities.

Once the Brazilian egg giant decided to produce its own product in Brazil, GFI helped the company draw up a business plan and connected it with product development consultants and suppliers.

The entire R&D process, from idea to launch, took two years.

Amanda Pinto, innovation manager at Grupo Mantiqueira, said GFI’s input was “very important”.

‘Tremendous trend-setting influence’

egg and yolk, yellow background, Masanyanka
© GettyImages/Masanyanka

According to industry trade association Brazilian Egg, Brazil is among the top ten biggest egg producers in the world and Grupo Mantiqueira claims to be the biggest egg producer in South America.

It does not see this vegan version as a competitor to conventional eggs. Pinto said: "We don't see it as a rival, but as a complement to our portfolio. We want to give customers the power of choosing the product that best suits them. Maybe the growing demand for this product can drop egg demand, but we are here to satisfy different consumers' need." 

According to the Good Food Institute, Mantiqueira's size means it has “a tremendous amount of trend-setting influence”.

“We think this is a great first step that will only grow in market share,” ​managing director of GFI Brazil Gustavo Guadagnini told FoodNavigator-LATAM. “To rival conventional eggs from hens, we need investment in these new technologies. We also need to promote new products, especially those distributed by companies with nation-wide reach.

“We don't expect to see an immediate shift in the market but a consistent growth in all plant-based categories.”

Guadagnini said GFI is currently working with other Latin American companies on developing similar products “especially in Brazil​”.

“2019 will be a year of high impact product launches in plant-based meat and dairy aswell​,” he added.

In 2017, Grupo Mantiqueira launched Happy Eggs, a range of eggs laid by free-range hens. The products are certified by non-profit certification organization Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC) and the hens are kept in conditions that meet animal welfare standards of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

A newly hatched category

In 2015, US company Follow Your Heart launched VeganEgg, a plant-based egg replacer​. Unlike other egg replacers available at the time that could only be used as an ingredient in baking, the company said VeganEgg could be used to make scrambled eggs, quiches, and frittatas. The product is made from whole algal flour, algal protein, gelling agents such as cellulose gum and carrageenan, yeast, sea salt, and calcium lactate.

In 2017 Italian students patented their formulation​ for a product they claim has the appearance and characteristics of a hard-boiled egg. The egg takes the form of a ready-to-eat product and is made from a blend of pulse flours, vegetable oils, gelling agents and salt.

JUST, the company formerly known as Hampton Creek, manufacturers Just Egg, a plant-based scrambled egg alternative made with mung bean protein. Three months after its retail launch, Just Egg was already outselling established, conventional liquid egg brands, according to the company. Last year, it signed a deal with Italian egg producer and distributor Eurovo Group to bring Just Egg to Europe, and the company feels bullish about further global expansion.

JUST CEO Josh Tetrick told our sister publication FoodNavigator-USA​: "We’ll probably have 10-15 primary processing locations strategically located around the world, one in Canada, one in western Europe, a handful in Asia Pacific, one in Latin America and so on, and these could be joint ventures we have with other companies, these could be manufacturers we work with, or they could be facilities that we own.

“It’s what Coca-Cola has been doing for years. They produce the concentrate and supply it to bottling partners, and that’s the way they scaled so quickly.”

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