When lifelong entrepreneur David Kroll met Peggy Johns, he realized that what Johns had created in her home kitchen was a product that, “had the potential to become a disruptor in modern nutrition.”
Four years later, that product – known now as Egglife egg white wraps – has grown from $4 million a year in retail sales and placement in a few hundred stores to $40 million in sales and shelf space in more than 12,000 stores, including Whole Foods Market, ALDI, Target, Kroger and Walmart.
One of the keys to Egglife’s success is the fact that the product is meeting the needs of consumers with special dietary needs, said Kroll, who now serves as the company’s CEO.
“Many consumers today live with dietary restrictions due to food allergies or diabetes or are choosing to live a specific dietary lifestyle – be it low-carb, keto or gluten-free,” Kroll said of the wraps which serve as alternatives to traditional white flour tortillas and are made with cage-free egg whites and a handful of other simple ingredients. “For our consumers, the innovation Egglife brings to market comes in the form of food freedom. Two of the most common phrases our fans use to describe Egglife wraps are ‘obsessed’ and ‘game-changer.’ They really allow consumers the opportunity to enjoy the foods they love and flavors they crave, regardless of dietary lifestyle.”
The driving force behind the innovations
About 40% of shoppers have to consider allergies, intolerances or sensitivities when shopping for food according to Steve Markenson, vice president of research and insights for FMI – The Food Industry Association, who shared findings of the association’s Power of Plant-Based Alternative Foods and Beverages 2023 report at this year’s Plant Based World Expo in New York.
“These considerations impact trial and continued consumption of plant-based alternative foods and beverages among some consumers,” Markenson shared. “This is especially the case for dairy/lactose, seafood and gluten allergies, intolerances or sensitivities.”
According to Nestle USA, nine foods trigger 90 percent of all food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat and sesame. Allergens are also a leading cause of FDA and USDA recalls, according to the Safe Quality Food Institute, a division of FMI that offers quality assurance and food safety managers an interactive course on how to implement an allergen management program to protect consumers, meet SQF Code and prevent recalls.
Brands are taking notice of consumer demand for allergy-friendly and allergen-free products, according to a 2023 study from Circana and Spins that found that snacks with allergen-free claims experienced 8.7% year-over-year unit growth and 25% dollar growth.
“It won’t be long before consumers decide to exclusively purchase products that meet all of their expectations, not just some,” Kroll said. “We are already seeing the demand for this. Consumers want nutrition, versatility and convenience with every purchase. Products like Egglife that can check all of the boxes are few and far between, and that’s why they have staying power.”
Brands respond to dietary needs
In response to his own son’s severe allergies to multiple foods which isolated him from his friends during school functions, Joby Koffman and his brother Marty founded Abe’s Vegan Muffins that are dairy-, egg-, nut-, soy-, sesame- and pea protein-free. The company recently teamed with Universal and Illumination to create Minion-inspired Banana Chip Mini Muffins. Abe’s Muffins are considered “School-Friendly” and prioritize sourcing non-GMO, all-natural ingredients.
MadeGood snacks are made in a dedicated nut-free facility, are organic and have the added benefit of containing nutrients from vegetable extracts. Instacart named the company fifth on its 2022 list of 75 emerging brands based on sales velocity growth and, in May of this year – Allergy Awareness Month – the company partnered with Food Network chef Molly Yeh to create a downloadable recipe collection featuring MadeGood products.
Cookies and more
Denise Woodard founded Partake Foods in 2016 with a line of cookies that are certified gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan and free of the top 9 allergens. Last fall, Partake closed an $11.5 million funding round and, earlier this year, inked a deal with DoubleTree by Hilton to offer guests at the hotel the option of Partake’s allergen-free chocolate chip cookie upon check-in. The brand – which also makes allergen-free breakfast mixes – also recently debuted Classic Graham Crackers at Target stores and online at World Market and Imperfect Foods.
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