For the Berlin startup Perfeggt, a researcher from Rügenwalder Mühle is working on egg substitutes made from broad beans. This convinces many well-known investors.
The Perfeggt founding team: Bernd Becker, Gary Lin, Tanja Bogumil (from left to right)
A serial investor, a butcher and an entrepreneur meet. The entrepreneur says: "Let's make eggs out of beans." And everyone says: "Let's go!" This is how the founding history of Perfeggt can be summed up. The Berlin foodtech startup has set itself the task of developing a vegan alternative to chicken eggs. According to the company itself, this is said to be the best replacement product currently on the market. In any case, the Berlin start-up has succeeded in getting an extremely prominent circle of investors and business anglers enthusiastic about the idea of the chicken-free egg.
In its first round of financing in autumn 2021, more than 2.5 million euros were raised, including from leading international AgriFood investors such as EVIG Group, Stray Dog Capital, Good Seed Ventures, E²JDJ, Tet Ventures and Shio Capital, who have already Supported companies like Beyond Meat, Gorillas and Good Catch. Industry giants Godo Röben, Frank Kühne, Fredrik Jung Abbou and Ludwig Cramer-Klett also played their part.
In March 2022, Perfeggt subsequently expanded the round to 3.5 million euros after Gorillas founder Jörg Kattner, Just Spices founders Ole Strohschnieder and Béla Seebach, Foodspring founders Philipp Schrempp and Tobias Schüle as well as Hubertus Bessau from MyMuesli got on board . And because there aren't many, Lea-Sophie Cramer, Verena Pausder, Dr. Albert Schmidbauer (Biogena), Eric Quidenus Wahlforss (Dance), Atomico Angel Deepali Nangia and the Space-Tech and Deep-Tech Fund Urania Ventures by Maru Winnacker.
They all rely on Tanja Bogumil as CEO, once in business development at Mister Spex, then founder of the now insolvent curated shopping startup Kisura. And Gary Lin, serial founder and food investor (EVIG Group and Purple Orange), who is committed to banning every animal from our food system. And Bernd Becker, co-founder and CPO of the startup, trained butcher and food technologist with 25 years of industrial experience at Rügenwalder Mühle. There he played a key role in the development of the sausage producer's vegetarian and vegan products.
Egg is complicated
Eggs made from vegetable proteins – that sounds a lot simpler than it is. Eggs are true unicorns of the food world. With their unique biochemical properties, eggs can bind, foam, form jelly. Individual ingredients can also bring dryness and stability. Eggs are the premier class for him, says Bernd Becker. "I've proven that I can make sausages without meat," said the former head of research and development at Rügenwalder Mühle. "And that was difficult enough!"
The challenge after that was to get the egg from his old employer's vegetarian products to make them vegan. That often happened at the expense of taste. Eggs are often just delicious. “Tasty doesn't just mean taste, it also includes the texture, color and smell of a product. And if it isn't tasty in the end, then it won't be sold either," says Becker. No matter how sustainable or healthy it can be, he has learned that in the past. "No one wants to suffer while eating."
When Bogumil asked him if, as a co-founder, he wanted to develop plant-based eggs with her, he thought long and hard about how he wanted to go about it: “There is no textbook for plant-based eggs and there is no one I can call and ask could.” The topic is still so new, so unexplored. And also the market for it: a wide, open field of gigantic size.
Egg is a worldwide success
Eaten across cultures and religions around the world, eggs are the most popular animal protein. In Germany alone, per capita consumption is 239 eggs per year, according to the report on the market and supply situation for eggs 2021 by the Federal Office for Agriculture and Nutrition. Makes 19.9 billion eggs that are fried, boiled, poached or made into cakes in this country every year. At the same time, more and more people are turning away from animal proteins. Meat was first. A number of producers of alternative proteins have long been active in this area. Then dairy and cheese came into focus. Example: The Berlin vegan cheese startup Formo received 42 million euros from a large number of well-known investors in September.
The interest in vegan eggs in Germany is completely new. So: on the egg as a whole. In the field of dietary supplements and nutrition for athletes, there have long been a number of suppliers who offer vegan protein – i.e. pure protein – in various forms, from powder to shake. Of course, this is a different use case than what Perfeggt intends to do. They want to replace the egg as food. Internationally, the US company Eat Just is the leader with its Just Egg product. Just Egg was launched in the USA in 2019 – i.e. comparatively late compared to meat and milk alternatives – and there has been speculation about the European launch for a long time. In Germany, the Wiesenhof mother PHW is to take over sales. Metro Germany has had a plant-based alternative in its range since the beginning of March, Simply Eggless is a lupine-based product. At the end of February, four former Lidl managers announced that they wanted to become the leading brand for vegan substitute products with The VGN. Their first product: "The Original" – a fresh, liquid whole egg alternative made from broad bean protein, in a plastic bottle in the refrigerated section.
Perfeggt will probably look similar. Although the founders are thinking in different directions, the first product should be scrambled eggs or omelettes – that is: before it goes into the pan. “What we make looks like a cracked, scrambled egg,” explains Bogumil. In the pan, it reacts like a beaten, whisked egg.
Looks like real egg but no chicken was involved.
Broad bean plus X
The plant-based egg is made from, among other things, field beans, an uncomplicated and sustainable crop that can be easily grown locally. In addition, there are other vegetable proteins that the founders do not want to go into detail about. "It's a highly complex, plant-based protein system," summarizes Bogumil.
With the capital raised, the company intends to hire additional people in Berlin and at its research and development site in Emsland over the next few months, carry out intensive research and development work and prepare for the market launch in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. "We are building up Perfeggt as a consumer brand in an area where there are currently no brands," says Tanja Bogumil. To do this, first go to the gastronomy and the food service area. Perfeggt is also due to enter the food retail trade in the near future.
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