Eggs are just the beginning; we're also looking at food dyes, trans fats, and even sugar

From Google Maps to Dropbox: Hampton Creek taps another Silicon Valley superstar in bid to ‘use plants to make food better’

Just Mayo happens to be made from plants, but that's not why most people buy it, says Hampton Creek Foods. It's just a great-tasting mayo, and it's coming to a Walmart store near you soon...

Plant-based foods trail-blazer Hampton Creek Foods has hired one of its Silicon Valley-based investors - Ali Partovi (founder of LinkExchange and Code.org, and early advisor at Facebook & Dropbox), as its new chief strategy officer, just weeks after recruiting former Google Maps data scientist Dan Zigmond as its VP of data.

The San Francisco-based firm, which has attracted an enviable amount of venture capital, talent and publicity in the past 18 months, is best-known for its egg-free yellow pea-based retail product Just Mayo, which has secured shelf-space at a number of leading retailers including Walmart (click HERE) Dollar Tree, Costco, Safeway, Kroger and Whole Foods. 

Its second retail product, ‘Just Cookie Dough ’- a sorghum-based refrigerated cookie dough - is launching this month in Whole Foods and Costco, while ‘Just Scrambled’ (like Egg Beaters - minus the egg) will follow next year. It is also in talks with a clutch of tier one food manufacturers about using its plant-based products as ingredients in a wide range of foods.

Eggs are just the beginning; we're also looking at food dyes, trans fats, and even sugar

But its ambitions go far beyond egg substitutes, says the firm, which has been systematically screening thousands of plants with a ‘laser-like focus on functionality’ to identify those with properties from coagulation, emulsification and aeration to coloring and sweetening.

“It's not about eggs for us anymore,” communications director Morgan Oliveira told FoodNavigator-USA.

It's more about using plants to make food better, in a totally unique way from any other company out there today. We're screening 400,000+ plants from around the world to [help us make] food tastier, more sustainable, more convenient, more affordable, and healthier.    

“Today it may be mayo and cookie dough, but we're also looking at food dyes, trans fats, and even sugar.”

It says a lot that someone that basically doesn’t have to work wants to join our team full time

Asked about taking on Ali Partovi, she said: “It speaks a lot to our company that someone that basically doesn’t have to work for a living wants to get down in the trenches and help us realize our vision.

“Since investing in Hampton Creek's Series B round, Ali has become increasingly involved with Hampton Creek, serving as a trusted mentor and strategic advisor to [founder and CEO] Josh [Tetrick], and helping us secure our one-of-a-kind relationship with Facebook.

"Ali is incredibly passionate about our mission, and we feel pretty lucky to have him.”

We feel very blessed

As for Hampton Creek’s progress to date, she added: “We feel very blessed - this time last year we didn’t even have a product on the shelf and today we’re doing deals with Fortune 500 companies and have almost 70 staff - it’s pretty insane doing all that in one year.”

An angel investor, startup advisor, and serial entrepreneur based in San Francisco, Ali Portovi co-founded and sold two high-profile startups: iLike, acquired by MySpace in 2009, and LinkExchange, acquired by Microsoft for $265m in 1998. His portfolio has included Zappos, Facebook, DropBox, Viagogo and OPOWER.

 

 

   

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Josh Tetrick: "This is not about eggs, or plant-based products, it’s simply about using plants to make food better. Today it’s eggs, tomorrow might be sugar, or trans fats, or even food dyes. We’re simply making it easier for regular people to make better food choices."

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Josh Tetrick: "Our product is cheaper than egg, and as volumes increase, it’s going to get even cheaper. But the reason we’ve got agreements from two Fortune 500 companies [to use it] is because it’s better than what’s already out there"

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