Pioneering project seeks food manufacturers to develop egg replacements

A groundbreaking initiative is calling for food manufacturers to participate in the development of innovative plant-based egg replacements. The Plant-based Ingredients for Egg Replacement (PIER) project, a collaboration between emulsifier specialist Palsgaard, its R&D sister company Nexus, and Aarhus University, is seeking partners to co-create solutions that could significantly reduce both recipe costs and carbon emissions.

Claus Hviid Christensen, Chief Executive Officer of Nexus

Claus Hviid Christensen, Chief Executive Officer of Nexus

The project is primarily targeting manufacturers who currently utilise substantial quantities of egg and egg powders in their products and have a strategic goal to decrease their reliance on these ingredients. Successful applicants will gain priority access to the new ingredients for use in their own product lines.

Sustainability at the forefront

Environmental considerations are a key driver for the PIER project. According to the project’s estimates, the global annual consumption of eggs generates CO2 emissions equivalent to three times that of all container ship traffic. Approximately 12% of these eggs are used as ingredients in food products, providing crucial functionalities such as texture enhancement, volume increase through foaming, gelling, and emulsification.

The ambitious goal

The collaborative effort aims to develop plant-based alternatives capable of replacing 10% of the eggs used globally as ingredients. This reduction could potentially lead to a decrease of 100,000 tonnes in CO2 emissions, with an ultimate target of reducing emissions by 33%.

Claus Hviid Christensen, Chief Executive Officer of Nexus, emphasised the project’s significance: “The PIER project represents an exciting opportunity to drive positive change by developing more cost-effective, climate-friendly ingredients. We’re looking to bring in partners from the food industry who are ready to co-create with us, testing their existing recipes and developing new recipes using solutions that are not yet available on the market.”

sponge cake

Balancing functionality and sustainability

A critical aspect of the project is ensuring that the plant-based alternatives not only reduce carbon emissions but also meet the stringent requirements of the food industry. The new ingredients must deliver on multiple fronts, including taste, sustainability, affordability, and functionality.

“Plant-based ingredients have enormous commercial potential as a replacement for eggs that can substantially lower carbon emissions,” Christensen added. “We may need to develop a range of solutions to meet different application requirements and we’ll also be exploring opportunities for partial egg replacement.”

Substantial funding

The PIER project has secured significant financial backing, with a total budget of 37 million Danish Kroner (approximately €5 million). This includes a grant of 23 million Danish Kroner (approximately €3 million) from Innovation Fund Denmark, underscoring the project’s potential impact on the food industry and environmental sustainability.

Collaborative approach

The project emphasises a collaborative approach, inviting food manufacturers to become frontrunners in this innovative scheme. By participating, companies will have the opportunity to co-create with other project members and gain early access to novel ingredients for their products.

Christensen highlighted the benefits of early involvement: “By securing first-mover advantage on next-generation egg replacements, the successful applicants will get a big head start in being able to cut their costs and their carbon footprint.”

What the future holds

The success of the PIER project could have far-reaching implications for the food industry, potentially revolutionising the way manufacturers approach egg-based ingredients. As the industry continues to grapple with sustainability challenges and consumer demands for more environmentally friendly products, initiatives like PIER may pave the way for a new generation of plant-based alternatives.

As the project moves forward, it will be crucial to monitor its progress and assess the efficacy of the developed solutions in real-world applications. The outcomes of this collaborative effort could potentially provide egg replacement ingredients, offering food manufacturers new tools to enhance sustainability while maintaining product quality and functionality.