There are many reasons bakers may want to replace eggs in their formulations, but price remains the primary motivator for most of them.
“Cost reduction is the No. 1 reason bakers look at egg replacement, bar none,” said McKenna Mills, senior technical services specialist for bakery, Cargill. “Eggs are a costly ingredient, and as the current avian flu situation showcases, they have a history of price volatility.”
Due to a national outbreak of avian influenza, commonly referred to as bird flu, egg prices have skyrocketed. According to the USDA, the average weekly price of large eggs is up 44% compared to 2021. In some states like California and Louisiana, the price of one dozen eggs exceeded $2, a dramatic jump from the USDA’s average benchmark price of 84.3 cents per dozen in 2021. Since the outbreak began in early March, prices of whole dried eggs have also risen nearly 270%.
For bakers that rely on eggs, these price increases can have a huge impact on their bottom line. Thankfully, many suppliers and formulators are better prepared to handle this volatility than in years prior.
“Since we have been through a couple iterations of this, many formulators have taken their eggs down as far as they can and still maintain the product attributes that they’re looking for,” explained Brook Carson, vice president of research and development, Manildra Group USA. “Most people have had a chance to screen some of the alternatives that are on the market and have a little bit of direction as to where they can go and what solutions are available.”
Other customers have instead opted to build these high costs into their budgets, accepting the cyclical volatility of egg prices.
“There’s definitely different perspectives and different methods for addressing this issue that we see over and over again,” Ms. Carson observed.
Fully replacing eggs in a formulation provides the biggest shield against price volatility. But even if a complete replacement isn’t possible, just reducing a formulation’s egg content makes a big difference.
“Even with a partial replacement, the baker can save a considerable amount of money and have a more consistent cost of ingredients,” said Rob Nordin, Southeastern sales, Brolite.
These ingredient savings can allow bakers to save their limited egg supplies for products that are more dependent on them.
“Using replacement ingredients in applications like cookies, which are less dependent on eggs’ functional properties, enables bakers to allocate more of their egg supply to things like cakes, where egg replacement is more challenging,” Ms. Mills said.
Ingredient suppliers have focused extensively on egg replacements since the last avian flu outbreak in 2015, Ms. Mills said, meaning they can now provide better solutions, and a wider selection of them, to bakers.
“This time around, we have a lot of egg replacement solutions ready to go,” she said. “By leveraging all the research we’ve already done, we’re 1,000 times more prepared to support customers looking for egg reductions in their recipes.”
For example, Cargill’s Prolia soy flour is a cost-effective alternative to eggs and can replace 25% of liquid whole eggs in muffins and 25% to 50% in cookies and pancakes.
“Typically, we’ll recommend bakers opt for a re-lecithinated soy flour like Prolia Soy Flour 200/20, which can help replicate the emulsification and mouthfeel properties associated with the lecithin also found in eggs,” she explained.
This article is an excerpt from the June 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Egg Replacers, click here.