SINGAPORE, 30 November 2020 — In the wake of Covid-19 and its disruption to food supply chains across the world—exposing fragilities in our global food security—Singapore-based food technology start-up Float Foods today announced a breakthrough in its bid to join the race for innovation in alternative proteins with its debut plant-based protein product, OnlyEg, Asia’s first commercial plant-based whole egg substitute that offers an egg yolk and egg white replacement.
The announcement comes on the back of Float Foods’ positive engagement with accredited local organisations in the fields of research and innovation including Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) Singapore Institute of Food and Biotechnology Innovation (SIFBI), food incubator Innovate 360 and Singapore Polytechnic Food Innovation and Resource Centre (FIRC) – all of whom have been highly supportive of optimising the development of OnlyEg .
THE OnlyEg FOR ASIANS
Comprising legumes-based substitutes for both egg yolk and egg white as two distinct components which can be prepared and assembled in minutes into multiple styles of egg including sunny side-up, overeasy or soft boiled, OnlyEg is the first of its kind to achieve this level of likeness to a real chicken egg; the closest alternatives in the market are currently liquid blends of egg substitutes that are limited to scrambled eggs and omelettes. Developed with proprietary technology created by Float Foods’ in-house research and development team led by Founder and CEO Vinita Choolani, the impetus for the breakthrough was founded on a key vision to create a plant-based food ecosystem within Singapore that caters to the Asian diet – in this case with the ability to reproduce different styles of eggs that are commonly found in Asian cuisine.
“Eggs play a major role in Asian cuisine. Some of our local favourite ways of enjoying them are on its own, as soft-boiled eggs with toasts for breakfast, or a sunny side-up served with rice dishes such as nasi lemak or fried rice. Ultimately our goal is to apply food science and innovation to build plant-based products such as OnlyEg that enable cultural relevance and contribute to a sustainable food ecosystem that can be a part of Singapore’s future food plans,” shares Choolani.
THE OnlyEg FOR YOUR HEALTH
Another key component of Float Foods’ plant-based food ecosystem is a “food as medicine” approach – where the nutritional benefits of OnlyEg is being developed to be higher than that of a chicken egg. OnlyEg will also be able to offer versatility, functionality and nutritional value that matches that of a whole chicken egg, while mitigating the potential for animal-to-human disease transmission, hormones or antibiotics residue and supply chain disruption; reducing our carbon footprint and land use while adding to food diversity – all of which Choolani believes will be critical in ensuring adoption by the mainstream consumer.
This conviction stems from Choolani having spent the past decade helping catapult INEX INNOVATE, a leading women’s health care biotech company based in Singapore, from a biotech start-up to Asia’s leading women’s innovation health care company with a valuation of US $72 million in 2019. “Matching the nutritional make-up is only the beginning of what we want to achieve. Eventually we want to be able to create variations of our plant-based products that are embedded with nutritional properties that can enhance the lives of consumers with different dietary needs. In doing so, OnlyEg will be placed on the forefront of plant-based egg substitutes by closing the gap between the original product and the substitute further than ever before.”
FORGED IN A PANDEMIC
Not only was a plant-based whole egg substitute the first idea on the drawing board and placed on the fast track to reach OnlyEg’s present-day proof-of- concept status since the six-month-old start-up was incorporated in June this year, it was also a significant catalyst for the inception of Float Foods. It was in the thick of Singapore’s nationwide “circuit breaker” lockdown when Choolani experienced first-hand the detrimental effects Covid-19 had on Singapore’s food supply chain, with eggs flying off supermarket shelves amid bouts of panic buying, as well as rising food safety concerns around the world and close to home.
“In the UK, farmers had to dump millions of pints of milk down the drain. In Singapore, we have thrown away over 250,000 eggs because of oversupplyi. That, couple with the rising concerns of animal disease transmission such as Covid-19 and the avian flu, which has proved to be much deadlier than coronavirus and prone to more frequent outbreaksii, as well as the harmful effects of hormone injections administered to chickens to boost egg production – the case for a viable stand-alone plant-based alternative to the table egg has never been more compelling than now.”
A LEAP TOWARDS “30 BY 30”
Asia to date remains the biggest consumers in chicken eggsiii, as 65 per cent of global production takes place in the regioniv. With Singaporeans consuming almost 2 billion chicken eggs annuallyv, of which more than 70 per cent are currently imported from Malaysiavi, relying on the status quo would keep the country extremely susceptible to food supply disruptions.
“Singapore aims to produce 30% of its nutritional needs by 2030, and as a homegrown food technology start-up, we are in an optimal place to push the plant-based movement by working along the entire supply chain to contribute towards this goal – and we’re thrilled with the prospects that OnlyEg presents,” emphasises Choolani, who has centred Float Foods’ development of proprietary technology for plant-based protein products with a focus on egg and dairy-free segments since day one. In the pipeline for commercialisation across the next two years are dairy-free alternative proteins for yoghurt, cheese and milk, and a line of plant-based egg patty and shredded eggs.
EYES ON A PLANT-BASED ASIA
Covid-19 has accelerated what was already a rapidly growing movement since the subtle yet important rebrand of the “vegan” movement to the “plant-based” movement, with the global plant-based food market projected to chart a 12% compound annual growth rate to reach US $74 billion by 2027, and Asia Pacific projected to record the highest growth during this periodvii.
The global plant-based egg applications market itself is projected to reach over US $1.5 billion by the end of 2026viii, and with American plant-based egg producer Eat Just Inc eyeing Asia in its latest stride—an upcoming US $120 million plant-protein facility in Singapore touted to be the first-in-kind and largest in the region to serve its popular line of blended egg substitutes to the Asian market—the proof of potential for plant-based egg innovations in Singapore and the region is positive.
“We have ways to go in terms of funding and bringing the final product to the consumers, but in many ways, including the encouraging response we’ve received so far, we can’t help but feel like we’re working towards the last bastion of a functional, versatile plant-based egg,” affirmed Choolani.
Float Foods has completed proof-of-concepts for OnlyEg and other alternative proteins products including plant-based yoghurt, cheese and blended egg patties and shreds. The start-up is currently raising capital through a Series A round as it gears OnlyEg for commercial readiness by 2022, with support from Singapore’s leading research and innovation agencies to realise the full potential of the technology. A series of proprietary and licensed plant-based products will be released in phases across the next two years. For more information, please visit www.floatfoods.com.