JUST, Inc.

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JUST, Inc.
Formerly called
Beyond Eggs, Inc.
Hampton Creek Foods, Inc.
Privately held company
Industry Food technology
Founded December 11, 2011 (2011-12-11)
Founder Joshua Tetrick
Josh Balk
Headquarters San Francisco, CA, U.S.
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Products Just Mayo, Just Dressing, Just Cookies, Just Cookie Dough, Just Scramble
Revenue Estimated US$30 million (2014)[1]
Website justforall.com

JUST, Inc. (formerly Hampton Creek) is an American food manufacturing company headquartered in San Francisco that produces plant-based foods that are sold globally.[2][3] The company was founded in December 2011 by Josh Balk and CEO Joshua Tetrick, under the name Hampton Creek Foods, Inc..[4][5] With around 130 employees,[6] JUST makes mayos, dressings, cookies, cookie dough, breakfast proteins and cultured meat.

History[edit]

JUST was founded as Hampton Creek in the summer of 2011[7] by Josh Balk and Joshua Tetrick. Balk was then senior director of food policy for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) farm animal division,[8] and had previously been known for his work at Compassion Over Killing (COK).[9] Tetrick was an American entrepreneur who had worked on social campaigns as a Fulbright Scholar.[7] Both founders had been friends since their teenage years,[10] and, together, developed the concept of a plant-based food company stemming from problems each had noticed in the global food system.[7] Explained Balk, "a [cheaper] plant-based egg product that had the same taste and texture as normal eggs... would meet a need consumers and food customers have that hasn’t been filled yet."[7]

The organization received $500,000 in seed funding in December 2011 from Khosla Ventures,[11] its first round of investments. In June 2012, the company relocated from Southern California to a facility in Northern California,[11] specifically the SOMA district of San Francisco.[7] Also in June after the relocation, the company received a $1.5 million Series A round of funding from Khosla Ventures. The funds were used to expand the company's headquarters and add additional employees. One of the first new hires was chef Chris Jones, former Chef de Cuisine of Moto restaurant in Chicago, and a former Top Chef contestant.[11] In February 2013, the company launched its first product, Beyond Eggs, an egg-free egg replacement using plant-based ingredients such as peas.[4] Their second product Just Mayo was released around seven months later.[12]

On February 17, 2014, the company announced it had raised $23 million in Series B[13] round led by multi-billionaire Li Ka-shing[14][15][16][17] and Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang.[14] CEO Tetrick announced that the company would use the funds to continue its growth in North America, establish a presence in Asia, build strategic partnerships, and grow its team.[13][16] Throughout the summer of 2014, the company expanded its operations into a new 90,000 square-foot facility in San Francisco.[18] The company hired Dan Zigmond, described by TechCrunch as "Google's main data guy," in June 2014 to build a database for the company's research into plants.[18] Zigmond, who had been working for eight years on YouTube and Google maps, stated his plan was to "build the world’s largest plant database."[18] The company signed chef Ben Roche in July 2014.[2]

Products[edit]

Beyond Eggs[edit]

In February 2013, the company launched its first product, Beyond Eggs. The eggs-free egg replacement is made with plant-based ingredients such as peas, sunflower lecithin, canola, and natural gums, and was marketed as being free of animal products, gluten, and cholesterol.[4] The egg substitute was primarily marketed for the making of cookies.[12] Prior to the fall of 2014, the public distribution of Beyond Eggs was stopped, in order for the company to work primarily with private companies such as the catering conglomerate Compass Group.[19]

Just Mayo[edit]

JUST's flagship product is a spread called Just Mayo.[20][21] It utilizes plant substances, with the original formula using the company's egg replacement powder, which is primarily made out of a varietal of Canadian Yellow Pea.[2] In early February 2016, Hampton Creek announced it was working on Just Mayo Light but it was later discontinued.[22] In early 2018, Just Mayo was reformulated with a recipe that offers 40 percent less calories while claiming to retain the same flavor [23] offering varieties of Just Mayo beyond the original, including Chipotle, Sriracha, Garlic, Truffle and "Awesomesauce."[24]

Just Cookies[edit]

The Just Cookies product line was launched in 2014, and was marketed as a more sustainable and healthy cookie because of its ingredients.[25] Flavors as of 2016 included chocolate chip, sugar, oatmeal raisin, double chocolate espresso and peanut butter.[26] The cookie is made without butter or eggs, which makes it cholesterol free. Both Oprah Winfrey and Andrew Zimmern publicly commented they were fans of the brand,[25] and by late 2014, the large catering company Compass Group had replaced its conventional chocolate chip cookies with Just Cookies.[19] Unlike other JUST products, the macadamia cookies contain milk [27]

Cultured (Clean) Meat[edit]

In June 2017, the company revealed that it had been secretly working on cultured meat for a year and aimed to make its first commercial sale of a "clean meat" product by the end of 2018.[28] In August 2017, the company said it had begun early talks with at least 10 global meat and feed companies across South America, Europe and Souteast Asia to bring industrialized production efficiency to lab-grown meat.[29]

JUST is one of a small number of startups working on cultured meat, or clean meat,[30] which is real meat that is created without the need to raise and slaughter animals. The process includes harmlessly extracting cells from an animal and feeding those cells nutrients so they can multiply into a product that can be cooked and eaten. Companies working on cultured meat products say the process is much like brewing beer or making soy sauce, both of which are cultured food products. They also say the end result will be better for the environment, safer for consumers and more humane to animals than conventional meat production. One of the biggest technical challenges is finding cost-effective and scalable nutrients to feed the cells to get them to multiply so that mass quantities of meat can be commercialized and sold. JUST has said it hopes to make its first commercial sale before the end of 2018.[citation needed]

In the media[edit]

A Freedom of Information request in late 2015[31] revealed that the government-controlled American Egg Board (AEB) had engaged in a paid advocacy campaign targeting Hampton Creek through online media, with the board's CEO dubbing Hampton Creek a "major threat" to the egg industry. As the United States Department of Agriculture prohibits advertising by its marketing boards "deemed disparaging to another commodity," the revelation met with a fair degree of controversy in the press,[32] resulting in AEB changing PR agencies and the resignation of the AEB president.[33][21]

Allegations about buyout program[edit]

In August 2016, Fast Company and Bloomberg News reported that in the lead-up to a venture capital funding round in 2014, Hampton Creek engaged contractors to visit leading retailers and buy its eggless Just Mayo product.[34] Bloomberg cited emails sent by Caroline Love, a vice-president at Hampton Creek, which instructed the contractors to visit retail outlets to buy the product. Hampton Creek also reportedly asked contractors to call retail outlets to make inquiries about Just Mayo in an effort to make it appear that there was interest in the product.[35] Hampton Creek claims that the buyout program was for quality control purposes.[35][36][21]

Target pull out[edit]

In 2016, Hampton Creek voluntarily recalled one batch of its Just Mayo product due to Salmonella contamination concerns.[37] In June 2017, Bloomberg reported that Target and Target.com had stopped selling Hampton Creek products, representing the loss of one-third of the company's retail business.[38] Two months later, Target severed ties with Hampton Creek, citing complaint letters received from unnamed parties.[39] Following the conclusion of a federal investigation by the Food and Drug Administration in August 2017, Alternet investigated further, determining that the complaints against the company were unfounded and a "malicious hoax."[40][41] Nonetheless, as of March 2018, food products labeled either Hampton Creek or JUST remained unavailable from any Target outlets.

Technology[edit]

Robots perform molecular and functional assays at JUST HQ

The design of the first product, Just Mayo, was outsourced to Mattson, a San Francisco food technology company.[42][21] JUST has made a major investment in automating the process with large industrial robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.[43] The project is called Blackbird.[44] The R&D team sources plants from countries around the world, mills them into a powder, removes their proteins and splits it into 72 fractions. They look at the plants’ molecular characteristics and functional characteristics and tests their performance in real world food applications.[citation needed]

Funding[edit]

Major funding rounds for Hampton Creek
Date
capped
Type of
funding round
Major investors Amount raised Notes
December 2011 Seed funding Khosla Ventures $500,000 Khosla Ventures was the company's original investor.[11]
June 2012 Series A Khosla Ventures, et al. $1.5 million Hampton Creek received this round the same month as a relocation to San Francisco.[45][11]
February 17, 2014 Series B Led by Li Ka-shing,[13][14][15][16][17] with other investors including Jerry Yang,[14] Google's Jessica Powell,[16] Ali and Hadi Partovi,[16] Scott Banister, Ash Patel,[17] Khosla Ventures, Collaborative Fund, Kat Taylor, and Tom Steyer’s Eagle Cliff.[17] $23 million This round brought the company's total funding at the time to $30 million.[16]
December 2014 Series C Led by repeat investors Horizons and Khosla Ventures.[46] $90 million This round brought the total accumulated funding to $120 million.[46]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Hampton Creek Foods (HAMPCRP)". Privco: Private Company Financial Intelligence. Retrieved February 22, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c Swallow, Erica (August 27, 2014). "Hampton Creek's Plan to Reimagine the Future of Food". Mashable. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  3. ^ Schwartz, Ariel. "The Most Realistic Fake Eggs In Existence Are Now On Sale". Fast Company. Retrieved September 11, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Ha, Anthony (February 13, 2013). "Khosla-Backed Hampton Creek Foods Launches Beyond Eggs, A Genuinely Convincing Egg Replacer". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  5. ^ Bilton, Nick (October 20, 2013). "Disruptions: Silicon Valley's Next Stop: The Kitchen". Bits blog. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  6. ^ Oliver, David (February 4, 2016). "Friday Flavors: Hampton Creek CEO teases new products; E-commerce's role in the Super Bowl". Food Dive. Retrieved February 22, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Feltman, Rachel (July 22, 2013). "One Founder's Quest to Eliminate Eggs from Food Supply Chains". Triplepundit.com. It was, in part, through the inspiration of high school buddy and co-founder Josh Balk (an occasional contributor to TriplePundit)– then working for the Humane Society helping corporations increase their use of cruelty-free eggs. 
  8. ^ “Josh Balk”. The Humane Society of the United States. “Since starting with The HSUS in 2005, he has worked with many of the largest corporations in the world to improve animal welfare in their supply chains. Kraft, ConAgra, Wendy's, Kroger, Denny's, Kellogg, Sysco, and Heinz are among the many companies Balk helped to establish animal welfare policies. He also led successful legislative campaigns to criminalize factory farming abuses in Arizona, California, Maine, and other states”. Retrieved March 10, 2013.
  9. ^ Riley, Christine (September 26, 2012). "A Q&A With The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)". Dunkin' Donuts. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Best Laid Plans". Humane Society. October 2013. Retrieved February 22, 2016. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Watson, Elaine (September 13, 2013). "Plant Egg Entrepreneur: We're not in business just to sell products to vegans in Northern California". foodnavigator-usa.com. Manufacturers were telling us that existing egg replacers for bakery in particular were not up to the mark. 
  12. ^ a b Feltman, Rachel (December 17, 2013). "Start-Up Aims to Replace Eggs with More Sustainable Vegetable Proteins". Scientific American. Josh Klein used to work on vaccine development for HIV, but these days he focuses on a different biochemical conundrum: making cakes moist and fluffy. 
  13. ^ a b c Jon Swartz (February 17, 2014), Food tech startup gobbles up $23 million in funding, USA Today, retrieved February 19, 2014 
  14. ^ a b c d Ryan Mac (February 17, 2014), Egg Replacing Startup Hampton Creek Foods Raises $23 Million From Asia's Richest Man And Yahoo Cofounder Jerry Yang, Forbes, retrieved February 19, 2014 
  15. ^ a b Alec Liu (February 18, 2014), Asia’s Richest Man Is Betting Big On Silicon Valley’s Fake Eggs, VICE Magazine, retrieved February 19, 2014 
  16. ^ a b c d e f Lora Kolodny (February 17, 2014), Hampton Creek Raises $23M to Make Eggs Obsolete, The Wall Street Journal: Venture Capital Dispatch, retrieved February 19, 2014 
  17. ^ a b c d Anthony Ha (February 17, 2014), Plant-Based Food Startup Hampton Creek Foods Raises $23M Round Led By Horizons Ventures, TechCrunch, retrieved February 19, 2014 
  18. ^ a b c Buhr, Sarah (July 3, 2014). "How A Former Google Data Guy Could Change What We Eat For Breakfast". TechCrunch.com. 
  19. ^ a b Roberts, Anna (October 12, 2014). "Freak Out! Safe-to-Eat Cookie Dough and Egg-Free Scramble Are Headed to Grocery Stores". PopSugar. Retrieved February 22, 2016. 
  20. ^ Cain, Claire (April 28, 2013). "Venture Capitalists Are Making Bigger Bets on Food Start-Ups". The New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c d Rinde, Meir (2017). "Ingredients for Success". Distillations. 3 (2): 26–37. 
  22. ^ Sentenac, Hannah (February 2, 2016). "Hampton Creek Says It's Working on Just Mayo Light". Vegan News. Retrieved February 22, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Just Mayo Reduced-Calorie Reformulation". Progressive Grocer. Retrieved 2018-04-27. 
  24. ^ "Just". justforall.com. Retrieved January 18, 2018. 
  25. ^ a b McColl, Sarah. "Is This the Cookie of the Future?". TakePart. Retrieved August 29, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Just Cookies". Hampton Creek. Retrieved February 22, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Just". www.hamptoncreek.com. 
  28. ^ Purdy, Chase. "Hampton Creek is now growing its own meat in labs—and it says it will get to stores first". Quartz. Retrieved January 18, 2018. 
  29. ^ "Lab-grown meat firm in talks to license tech". globalmeatnews.com. Retrieved January 18, 2018. 
  30. ^ ""Clean Meat": The "Clean Energy" of Food". The Good Food Institute. Retrieved January 19, 2018. 
  31. ^ Charles, Dan (September 3, 2015). "How Big Egg Tried To Bring Down Little 'Mayo' (And Failed)". NPR. Retrieved February 22, 2016. 
  32. ^ Thielman, Sam. "US-appointed egg lobby paid food blogs and targeted chef to crush vegan startup". The Guardian. Retrieved September 6, 2015. 
  33. ^ Stein, Lindsay. "American Egg Board Seeks New PR Agency After Hampton Creek Debacle". Adage. Retrieved February 22, 2016. 
  34. ^ Reader, Ruth (August 8, 2016). "The Real Hustle Behind Hampton Creek's Buy-Up Scheme". Fast Company. Retrieved August 8, 2016. 
  35. ^ a b Zaleski, Olivia. "Hampton Creek Ran Undercover Project to Buy Up Its Own Vegan Mayo". Bloomberg News. Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  36. ^ "Hampton Creek is facing a criminal investigation for buying back some of its own product". Business Insider. Retrieved December 21, 2017. 
  37. ^ "Target yanked Hampton Creek products after mysterious allegations. Vegans aren't happy" – via LA Times. 
  38. ^ Zeleski, Olivia "Target Begins Removing Hampton Creek's Products From Stores"; Bloomberg; June 22, 2017.
  39. ^ Crosby, Jackie "Target cuts ties to Just Mayo maker Hampton Creek"; Star Tribune; 27 August 2017.
  40. ^ Sosa, Chris (September 1, 2017). "A Vegan Mayo Company Was Attacked in a Malicious Hoax—Then Target Kicked Its Products Off the Shelves". AlterNet. Retrieved January 18, 2018. 
  41. ^ Beach, C. "FDA ends Hampton Creek query; gives GRAS status to protein: Target still not ready to put Just Mayo, other Hampton Creek products back on shelves"; 9 August 2017.
  42. ^ Carson, Biz (August 7, 2015). "Something is rotten at food startup Hampton Creek, former employees say". 
  43. ^ Penarredonda, Jose Luis. "Could AI help to create a meat-free world?". Retrieved January 18, 2018. 
  44. ^ "How Hampton Creek's Plant-Based Foods Have Scrambled The Grocery Aisle". July 28, 2016. Retrieved August 4, 2016. 
  45. ^ Venture Capitalists Are Making Bigger Bets On Food Start-Ups, New York Times, April 28, 2013, retrieved March 12, 2014 
  46. ^ a b Kowitt, Beth (December 18, 2014). "More money for mayo: Food startup Hampton Creek raises $90 million in funding". Fortune. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 

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