If you haven't yet heard of it, Hampton Creek is an awesome West Coast startup with a mission to redefine mass manufactured food, one product at a time. Having asked themselves what we could do differently if we reimagined food products from scratch, founders Joshua Tetrick and Josh Balk have already found a serious following—and indeed serious funding—in their attempt to make healthy food alternatives as affordable and tasty—as well as more sustainable—as their traditional counterparts. Just three years in, the brand's first product, 'Just Mayo'—an eggless sandwich-spread alternative, celebrated by loyal customers and celebrity chefs as being better than the real thing—has been flying off shelves from Whole Foods to Walmart.
Well, a dark shadow is looming over Hampton Creek this week as Big Food behemoth Unilever filed a lawsuit against the Just Mayo producers, claiming the plant-based product is deceptive to consumers because it doesn't contain any eggs, bemoaning that the product is already taking a nibble out of their billions of profits by outcompeting their Hellmann's brand. Clearly these food innovators have spooked the food industry.Now, to be fair to little old Unilever, the word 'Mayo' could be a little misleading if you didn't read the rest of the label: Hampton Creek's branding does include and egg with a pea shoot (the egg in Just Mayo interestingly being replace by pea protein) growing over it. Semantic/ontological questions of what makes mayo mayo notwithstanding, we do have to wonder whether the conglomerate has the consumer's best interest at heart or if they're just trying to hold back the tide of innovation with their legal might. Funny how big business only loves the 'free market' until it gets some real competition.
>David and Goliath