Yo! Egg's Unique Plant-Based Fried Egg Is Hatching Global Demand - Alt-Egg Exploration #6
Sunny side up, up and away for the world's first plant-based fried egg.
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Happy Tuesday Market Shakers. Last week we heard from a startup from the world-leading Food Tech hub, Singapore. Today, we visit another such hub as we interview the co-founder of Yo! Egg, an alt-egg maker based in Israel.
In this post, you’ll learn about how Yo! Egg is winning people over with its unique offering, its strategic approach to sales channels, and how they leveraged community to grow.
How Yo! Egg Was Hatched
Yosefa Ben Cohen, Co-Founder of Yo! Egg is a chef and restauranteur by trade. Before founding one of the world’s most promising plant-based egg startups, she enjoyed success owning and operating restaurant chains with her husband.
20 years into her career, she made the decision to go vegan. At this point, Yosefa was forced to re-learn her art. How to cook without the trusted tools to make any good dish great, like cheese, butter, and cream.
After remastering her craft, Yosefa decided to use it to help promote the joy of plant-based cuisine to consumers both vegan and non. She worked as a menu designer, helping restaurants add vegan and plant-based items to their menu.
For me, the way to help promote plant-based diets and reduce meat consumption is not cooking in a vegan restaurant. There, customers already understand. No, I wanted to help regular restaurants enrich their menus with plant-based dishes that all customers could enjoy, especially non-vegans.
One of Israel’s most popular American diners called and requested Yosefa to make a vegan sunny-side-up egg for their menus. At the time, there were no plant-based egg offerings on the market that looked and tasted like fried eggs. Yosefa crafted an egg using tofu for the white and pumpkin for the yolk. The restaurant loved it and so did its customers.
So much so that the phone was ringing off the hook with calls from other restaurants asking Yosefa to provide them with her vegan egg. Not the recipe, but the egg itself.
The moment when I began asking how do I mass produce this egg, is the moment Yo! Egg was born.
Yo! Egg’s Eggvolution
Yo! Egg was founded in 2019. The company claims to have created the world’s first plant-based fried and poached eggs. While there are now many plant-based eggs on the market, most are powdered-type and made for scrambling. Few offer a fried or poached-egg experience like Yo! Egg.
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Yo! Egg’s quality has earned it a place on the canteen menus at Google and Facebook in Israel. Many local restaurants also favour Yo! Egg as their plant-based egg of choice.
Yosefa explains that Yo! Egg is targeting food services as its primary customers. Not only is there demand, but she believes this is the best way to deliver on Yo! Egg’s mission of introducing the delights of plant-based food to consumers in general.
Yo! Egg has already established a production facility in Israel to serve its local market. In 2022 it raised $5 million in an oversubscribed seed round to build a production facility in the United States where it is currently expanding. Yo! Egg’s eventual aim for the facility is to produce 50,000 eggs per day.
These numbers and the company’s tangible results to date are impressive. They speak to an exceptional product.
Our company’s vision is to be the world’s largest producer of eggs. Not just the world’s biggest producer of “vegan eggs”. Not even “plant-based eggs”. Eggs made without chickens that can be enjoyed by everyone.
The Right Environment for Egg Innovation
In addition to Yo! Egg's proprietary recipe and production processes, Yosefa also credits Israel’s startup community for its impressive growth.
Israel is a world leader in innovation, including Food Tech. The nation is home to almost 100 unicorns. For Food Tech, Israel ranks second in terms of investment.
Israel is a small country. We have a tight-knit community. Everyone in the Food Tech space knows each other. We have close relationships with Plantish, Alef Farms, and many of the other innovators in this space. This is an active and supportive network.
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When Yosefa first began exploring how to scale the production of her product, the community helped her find the answer.
Existing plant-based food processing technology is mostly designed for meat applications. Processes like extrusion are far too rough for a delicate product like our eggs.
So I reached out to the Good Food Institute’s Israel branch. They are also heavily involved in the Food Tech community in Israel. They connected me with a very talented production engineer who helped us to design the equipment necessary to produce Yo! Egg at commercial scale.
Being able to partner with and develop relationships with restaurants in Israel has also enabled Yo! Egg to rapidly get feedback on its product and develop its quality.
Coming from the industry, I’m already connected with a lot of restaurants. We’re always working on new formulations to enhance our products or add new functionality. When we do, we send them to our partner restaurants to experiment with. They love to work with new products and give us feedback. We have a partner who was able to make fresh pasta using one of our products!
A small tight-knit community of startups and businesses makes Israel an ideal laboratory to develop quality products. When startups inevitably look to grow their business and brand, they venture abroad with tried and tested offerings.
Taking Flight, Yo! Egg is Bound For The States
Yo! Egg is sold in several major restaurants and chains in Israel. The market, however, is small and it’s natural for startups to look overseas to grow.
Yo! Egg picked the U.S. as its first target.
A lot of our customers in Israel are fast-casual restaurants, like Benedict. There’s a huge number of similar restaurants in the U.S., and a growing market for egg alternatives.
Ultimately, we’re open to partnering with many different types of food services. From fast service and diners to fine dining. We want to get as much experience as possible by working with a lot of partners while we take on the challenge of entering the U.S. market.
Yosefa is confident that Yo! Egg can capitalize on the opportunities in the states.
Our product is different from anything else on the market. Existing products in the U.S. don’t deliver on the same fried or poached egg experience like we do. What’s more, as we set up production in the U.S. we’re working on experimenting with all types of applications for our product.
What Next for Yo! Egg?
Right now we’re focussed on succeeding in the U.S.. We’re setting up production and we already have a really great area manager who is making connections with food service and also retailers. We’re set up so we can wow the market with quality products. This is key to building a strong foundation for our future growth.
Yo! Egg is also open to investment in the U.S.
To reach our target of 50,000 eggs a day, we’re probably going to need support to expand our production. We’re open to discussion about future funding.
Yo! Egg may be ready to fly the coop soon too. According to Yosefa, several companies in Europe, South Korea and also Japan have reached out showing interest in Yo! Egg.
After we succeed in the U.S., we are of course seeking to expand into other markets. Right now we’re discussing with various partners including co-producers, large corporates, and distributors.
For now, Yo! Egg is focused on food service. To break into retail, Yosefa is conscious that it will need to ensure its products can match the nutritional value of regular eggs.
Given the company's success so far and the growth rate of the alt-egg category, Yo! Egg looks set to land on food service menus around the world throughout the 2020s.
That’s all folks
Thank you for joining us as we uncovered the story of this week’s alt-protein innovator.
We would like to say a huge thank you to Yosefa and the team at Yo! Egg for supporting this interview.
See you next Tuesday for the final chapter in our Alt-Egg Exploration series.
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