A new all-round egg replacer, designed to remove the cost and hazards of handling eggs in food manufacture and foodservice, has been launched in the UK.
Egg replacement has been worked on by several companies in the past, with varying success. But a new venture, Alleggra Foods, jointly funded by Unilever, Tate & Lyle and other investors, believes it has developed a dry mix that tastes and cooks out the same as eggs -- but with fewer risks and distinct cost and health advantages.
The powdered product, called Alleggra, performs in biscuits, muffins and cakes, or can be used in wet- baked products, such as quiches and desserts, or as batters and glazes -- even for making omelettes or scrambled egg.
Egg performs many functions, including binding, coating, browning, glazing, and emulsifying. But it also has several drawbacks. For example, liquid egg is susceptible to microbial growth so is a high-risk, short shelf-life ingredient and must be processed and stored in a chilled environment.
Alleggra's egg replacement -- a dry powder mix of soy and whey protein, egg white and vitamins -- has an 18-month shelf-life and can be stored in ambient conditions.
This long ambient shelf-life is of particular interest to the Ministry of Defence, as the current practice of storing shell egg on board ships takes up considerable room, and the eggs last at most around three months.
Eggs have also been susceptible to price volatility, with prices rising following recent outbreaks of avian flu. Alleggra's sales and marketing director Neil Chivers says its dry mix offers manufacturers more stable pricing.
Health advantages are also offered in that the soy-based mix contains fewer calories, less saturated fat and more protein than eggs. "Soy is already established as having cholesterol-lowering benefits and in some applications Alleggra can help companies make cholesterol-lowering health claims," says Chivers.
The mixture is now undergoing trials with key customers and the company expects to see its use in retail products by the summer.