Vinita Choolani, Founder and CEO of Float Foods, is striving to overcome the global egg shortage with her plant-based alternative; OnlyEg!
Hey Vinita, we heard you are coming back for FHA-Food & Beverage this April! How has OnlyEg prepared for 2023? Are there any new developments since last year?
Vinita: We are coming back to FHA-Food & Beverage, bigger and better with an array of new products being launched! Look forward to revolutionary new plant-based egg innovations in various foodservice friendly (and incredibly nutritious) formats!
We have since signed agreements with Hong Kong SAR and the UAE for our products to be distributed, and are excited to connect with more international audiences.
While we are on the topic of FHA-Food & Beverage, how has business been since? Did you gain any new business from the show?
Vinita: FHA-Food & Beverage was an incredible platform to connect with restaurants and groups not only in Singapore but in the region and around the world. Some of these connections have since turned into very fruitful partnerships.
What makes you want to come back for 2023?
Vinita: With FHA-Food & Beverage, it’s a beautiful thing because we don’t know what to expect and who to expect. So based on the response we get at the show, we can adjust our direction towards meeting the market demand.
It’s also a great place to connect with others in the alternative protein space. We do eggs, so bringing meat analogues and eggs together make the perfect balance in a plant-based meal and fosters good collaboration.
There has been talk about sustainability taking a backseat and consumers more conscious of the ingredients in alternative products. Where do you see the alternative protein industry going this year and moving forward?
Vinita: More refined products available and better usage occasions across restaurants and the Singapore F&B scene as people grow more accustomed to eating plant-based or being flexitarian.
Consumers are also getting better at distinguishing between the products that are purely sustainable and products that are also good for your health. That’s where we plan on making an impact with products that are incredibly nutritious and free of artificial ingredients.
Is there any research that your company has done with regards to this sector of F&B?
Vinita: We have found that health is a driving factor when it comes to consuming more plant-based foods. We see a shift in mindset and opportunity as people begin to focus more on bettering their own diets. By association, higher consumption of such foods and drastic changes in behaviour in this way ultimately makes the food system more sustainable.
Globally and in Singapore, there is an egg shortage. We currently have to source from further beyond our shores, is it more economical to pick up your product instead?
Vinita: Conceptually, plant-based products would be cheaper to manufacture than avian eggs. That being said, because the technology is new, our current prices match that of organic chicken eggs. With that as a starting price for our products that have only been in the market for 9 months, we are confident that we will soon see good reductions in price, making it more economical.
OnlyEg’s products also tend to have a much longer shelf-life when compared to chicken eggs, despite being devoid of artificial preservatives, colourings and flavourings. That means less worry and waste in the kitchen, whilst enjoying all the nutritional benefits and control.
Do you have a product that would be suitable for bartenders to use in drinks like flips, which would be more precise, hygienic, and convenient than using raw egg whites?
Vinita: OnlyEg launched an exclusive Veganuary promotion for our cocktail egg whites at bars like Potato Head, Level33 and more. This product is designed for use by mixologists to make smooth, frothy beverages, alcoholic or not. We are looking to roll this product out permanently in the coming months.
Does OnlyEg provides the same nutrition as a regular egg and what are some of the health benefits if any?
Vinita: We strive to provide the same protein content and have matched this across several products, including our shreds and omelettes. It is also much lower in calories and saturated fats by at least 70% compared to regular egg. Most importantly, it is free of cholesterol, antibiotics, and any artificial preservatives, colourings and flavourings.
Does your alternative egg have the vitamins and omega fatty acids that are found in regular eggs?
Vinita: OnlyEg is driven by the concept of food as medicine and food as nutrition. The priority with our current range was to maximise protein content (since that is a benefit commonly associated with consuming chicken eggs). Despite this, we are continuously striving to develop improved products that could potentially contain the same amount of vitamins and omega fatty acids as regular eggs.
Personally, I’ve tasted your eggs and can’t tell the difference. Is there any special method in preparing your eggs to achieve the same results consistently?
Vinita: At the end of the day, taste is always key when it comes to food. In developing our products, we work with partners that are renowned in the industry for feedback on elements like taste, texture, mouthfeel, and versatility. That way, the products are tweaked and refined so they achieved a certain standard before they are put out into foodservice. We have also tried to make each product incredibly easy to use, so that there isn’t an excessive amount of training required for chefs or chef assistants in the kitchen before being able to use OnlyEg.
I’m sure with all these benefits, there’s no reason to continue using regular eggs. When can consumers expect to see OnlyEg on the supermarket shelves?
Vinita: Our focus is the foodservice space for right now. However, we are keeping an eye on the retail space and are estimating to launch in 2024 for the Singapore market.
What are the challenges you faced at OnlyEg? Be it getting more consumers to adopt, getting international distributors, or getting the license to sell, etc?
Vinita: The challenge is refraining from categorising OnlyEg as solely a plant-based alternative. That becomes very limiting to the average diner. There’s more to the product. The products can and should be paired with anything, from vegan dishes to meat dishes even. The idea is healthier eating and moderation when it comes to our food, control of our diets, food security and so much more. It’s not just a vegan alternative.
What’s the key message you want to tell our FHA-Food & Beverage community?
Vinita: The flexitarian diet is the future! Members of the foodservice industry have an immense amount of power in creating and effecting a switch-up in our consumption habits, which in turn inculcates healthier eating both for ourselves and the planet.