Sunday Musings: Plant-based Eggs? What’s The Point?

Yesterday, I mentioned briefly a new product from a small plant-based food developer; a product that they are touting as revolutionary, a breakthrough in their technology, and a coming food crave-craze. Alas, I’m afraid I can’t share their enthusiasm for their new plant-based hard-boiled eggs…

Wundereggs - © 2021 Crafty CounterNew, egg-free Wundereggs: Can they fly in today’s marketplace?

At first glance, the product appears to deliver everything the maker promises, and more. Wundereggs, as they’re called, are made of just a few simple ingredients including nuts, agar (described by Wikipedia as, ‘a white, semi-translucent natural vegetable gelatin counterpart’), turmeric (used to colour the ‘yolks’ yellow), coconut milk, nutritional yeast, and salt. They look just like real hard-boiled eggs in the package photo, have received rave reviews from those who’ve tried prototypes, and boast a shelf life of 90-120-days.

But closer examination reveals some troubling issues…

The maker’s rationale

Crafty Counter, which also offers lentil- and bean-based veggie ‘Bites’, makes a strong philosophical case for Wundereggs on its dedicated website:

“At Crafty Counter we’re committed to make plant-based eating a WOW experience. Our simple yet innovative family of foods are driven by our insatiable curiosity to do things better – by you and the planet.

50 BILLION chickens slaughtered for food every year

250 MILLION male chicks culled every year in the US

34 HOURS hens suffer for just 1 egg

95% of hens live in battery cages”

Crafty Counter also points out that Wundereggs are vegan, have zero cholesterol, are gluten- soy- and dairy-free, and offer a safe substitute for folks who are allergic or sensitive to real eggs.

Holes in the logic

As we hinted back at the beginning of this post, Wundereggs look amazing at first glance. But there are a number of troubling issues surrounding their ingredients and marketing message.

First, Crafty Counter doesn’t make a big upfront deal about the fact that Wundereggs’ main ingredient is nuts. A Wundereg would be like a great big poison pill to someone with nut allergies. They really need to say more about that – big, bold and prominently placed – on the box.

Next, Wundereggs (at this point, in the final development stage) also lack many important nutrients you get from real eggs, including: choline, lutein, vitamin B12, zeaxanthin and selenium. On inquiry, Crafty Counter says it may ‘fortify’ Wundereggs before their official launch, ‘later this year or early next’. Nevertheless, they’ll never be a ‘plug-in’ substitute for real eggs.

Finally, we come to the price. Crafty Counter doesn’t mention the retail price point of Wundereggs on the website. But says the product is currently set to launch at a price of $5 for 2.  That’s just nuts (if you’ll pardon the pun). To sell en masse, Wundereggs will have to come much closer to the current – and enduring – retail price of real eggs.

Real eggs have maintained a price point of 25 cents or less each for decades, thanks to constantly-improving farm technology, chicken health and nutrition practices, and automated handling and packaging techniques. I know: the battery-farm egg production process is cruel and at the very least, regrettable a an agricultural practice. But would you be winning to pay, say, $1 per real egg if the industry was to massively switch over to the ‘free range’ model? That’s another issue for another day.

But I don’t think very many vegetarians or vegans will be willing to pay $2.50 per Wunderegg just for the peace of mind they’ll get from supporting Crafty Counter’s promise, ‘to do things better – by you and the planet’.

My take

After all is said and done, I am compelled to think that the Crafty Counter folks have fallen under the spell of their own philosophical and marketing message. Practicality seems to have been ignored in the development of their product. Will there be enough mega-motivated vegans and vegetarians out there, who still crave the ‘egg experience’, to keep Wundereggs financially viable?

As noble and revolutionary as Wundereggs may be, I just can’t see them enduring in the marketplace. At least, not as they are currently constituted and presented.

Muse on that…

~ Maggie J.