Yesterday I wrote about the growing amount of venture capital that is flooding the food industry. $146 million in 2013, to be exact.
One company that is seeing a lot of that money is Hampton Creek Foods, the makers of Just Mayo. This week they announced a $23 million series B led by Khosla Ventures.
I usually question the true healthfulness of manufactured food, and even the term “plant-based” is often a cover for products that technically come from plants but hit the shelves with lots of other chemicals in them. I also questioned the scalability of the experiment and whether or not production costs were low enough.
Well, with Hampton Creek Foods, at least, I stand corrected.
Morgan Oliveira, Director of Communications at Hampton Creek, reached out and explained more about the company.
“We are scalable and low-cost,” she said over the phone. “That’s why VCs are willing to put their money behind us. We don’t consider ourselves niche or super vegan. We really think this could be big and make a real change.”
For those of you skeptics like me, Oliveira explained the process behind making the Just Mayo line. The company sources yellow peas, which when ground into a powder, makes a great substitute for eggs. Then they combine it with typical mayo ingredients like oil, water, apple cider vinegar, etc.
And, voila, plant-based mayonnaise.
Costs are kept low because animal products are typically expensive to raise, and the GMO corn and soy they eat is both unhealthy and expensive. Hampton Creek Foods is certified by the Non-GMO Project, which guarantees that none of their products contain genetically modified organisms.
“We’re not against chickens or eggs,” Oliveira told me. “We’re just against factory farming. It’s 2014. Why are we still sourcing our food the way we did during World War II?”
I was definitely a skeptic when I wrote the post yesterday. After my discussion with Oliveira, I have to admit I was wrong in some of my assumptions about Hampton Creek. They’ll still have the same scaling and growth challenges as any startup, but at least they have sound, relatively inexpensive products to offer.
To find out more about Hampton Creek Foods, visit their website and check out Just Mayo at Whole Foods.