Sustainability Series: Hampton Creek Foods
January 29, 2014
San Francisco-based Hampton Creek Foods is a food technology company working to finding new ways of utilizing plants to fulfill the role that animal products play in thousands of different food products. They have screened over 2,000 plants from around the world and identified 11 that have the functional capabilities to outperform eggs in food applications, specifically a yellow split pea and particular type of sorghum. So far, Hampton Creek has released a mayonnaise called Just Mayo, nationally in Whole Foods. Their second product, Eat The Dough, a safe to eat and bake-able cookie dough, will be launching next. In addition to being more sustainable, Hampton Creek’s products reduce avian flu concerns, have zero cholesterol, and are also safe for those with egg allergies/sensitivities (a concern for over 33 million Americans). We talked to Communications Director, Morgan Oliveira, about how a company like Hampton Creek can help meet the challenges of feeding an ever-growing population.
How does your business define sustainability?
There are 1.8 trillion eggs that go into production every year. And 99% of these eggs come from battery cage facilities that require massive amounts of water, fertilizer, feed, and are thus very bad for the environment – not to mention are incredibly inhumane. To us, being able to remove these eggs from production and replace them with plants will have a significant positive impact on the environment. We just need to take the animal out of the whole equation.
How are you incorporating sustainable practices into your business?
We're very careful about the plants we source/study to make sure they are ones that will be commercially viable, are not harmful to the environment, and will also be available at a very low cost.
What are your short term and long-term goals?
In the short term, our goal is to continue to successfully launch consumer-facing products that are less expensive and more affordable than products containing chicken eggs. In the long-term, we would like to do more far-reaching projects around the world, working with local farmers to help create job opportunities for them, and to ultimately have a true global and sustainable impact.
Where do you think you’ll have the biggest impact?
We hope to have a big impact everywhere, but it will likely be felt most in the global factory farming industry. The majority (99%) of eggs in production come from these facilities and these are our main targets.
How do you measure your progress?
In addition to tracking the sales and popularity of our first product, Just Mayo, we're also growing as a company and have doubled our team in the past six months. We are also about to launch our second product, Eat The Dough, soon, and will be moving to a new, larger headquarters in the upcoming months, so there are many milestones we can look at to see our progress.
How do retailers factor into your efforts?
We realize that sustainability and healthy food options are something that retailers and customers are very focused on these days and we are working closely with different retailers (such as Whole Foods) to focus on what their customers want.
Why are sustainable business practices important to the food industry?
Sustainable business practices are very important to the food industry for a number of reasons. For example, the world is growing rapidly – projected to hit a population of 9 billion by 2050. And if we don't start producing food more sustainably soon, we will not have enough food to feed this growing population. A billion people go to bed hungry every night. The animals we eat do not. Something is backwards and needs to be changed.
Why are sustainable business practices important to the consumer?
Sustainable business practices are important to consumers for a few reasons: it's a way to ensure there will continue to be enough food, it's a way to keep food costs down, and it also helps preserve the environment.