Plant-based food options are increasingly becoming more of a fixture in the grocery aisles and restaurants, and Yo! Egg is getting in on the action, poised to launch in U.S. restaurants this year with what CEO Eran Groner says is “the world’s first plant-based sunny-side-up and poached eggs.”
The global plant-based eggs market is expected to rise an average of 27% year over year by 2027 to reach just under $800 million in value, up from $148 million in 2020.
The Israel-based company was founded by Groner in 2019. He had been in agriculture and food tech for the past 20 years. He felt there was whitespace in the plant-based egg and seafood space and began looking at the problems, especially the amount of water needed to produce each poultry egg — 53 gallons, Groner said.
“Not to mention the diseases,” he added. “We learned in April there was a case recorded by the CDC of a person testing positive for avian influenza. That is a disease that, for a very long time, was thought could not be transferred to humans. Those are major problems that I became fascinated with solving, and I know that the only way to solve that is to remove the animals from the building.”
That’s when he met one of his co-founders, Yosefa Ben Cohen, who was a long-time vegan and chef working on solutions for restaurants, and her husband, Nisim Ben Cohen, who has scaling and manufacturing experience, and the idea for Yo! Egg (Groner chose “yo” to mean “wow”) came about.
Most of the startups tackling this space, including Perfeggt, Simply Eggless and Eat Just, have started with powdered and liquid varieties, but Yo! Egg is going after the more difficult “whole egg” experience, having developed an egg white and running yolk for consumers who like the taste and texture of that style of eggs but prefer a more sustainable and cholesterol-free option.
Yo! Egg is already on the market in Israel, starting in a breakfast chain that mainly serves poultry eggs.
“We could have easily chosen a vegan joint and played it safe, but no, we chose the hardest, which is a hardcore egg place, serving breakfast of all kinds,” Groner said. “They were willing to put us on our menu after tasting our product. We’ve been there since December, and now we’ve also reached major tech companies, such as Google and Facebook, and some hotels and other food service operations.”
Buoyed by $5 million in seed funding, the company will debut its products at the National Restaurant Association trade show in Chicago next week.
Following the trade show, Groner expects to have Yo! Egg products on menus in the Los Angeles area by the end of the year. The company will also use the funding to scale the sunny-side-up and poached products and to start working on hard-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs and baking solutions for the household.
Development of the product is pretty much done, and the company was able to grow from three full-time employees to 10 over the past couple of months, Groner said.
Scaling is a challenge with plant-based and other alternative protein products, and Groner says Yo! Egg has not been without challenges. The company had to engineer its own equipment, which took a lot of iterations, and it has already developed a third prototype. He expects the final design to produce 50,000 eggs per day, up from the current 6,000 eggs per day now.
“Our vision is to create the world’s largest egg company, not egg alternative company, and not the largest plant-based egg company, but the largest egg company without using chickens,” Groner added. “If we want to do that, we have to move as quickly as possible. That was the main reason why we wanted to raise venture capital.”
Meanwhile, the seed round was co-led by NFX and Stray Dog Capital with Surround Ventures and Secret Chord Ventures also participating.
“With over 95 billion eggs consumed every year in the U.S., and each egg requiring 53 gallons of water to produce, we need a better solution,” said Stray Dog Capital partner Jonny Ream in a statement. “After tasting Yo! Egg, we knew that this company could change the world. We are proud to support their work and excited to see their eggs on menus everywhere.”