How Do Consumers React When a Government-Backed Lobby Tries to Undermine a Small Food Producer?


A flurry of controversy erupted when San Francisco upstart food producer Hampton Creek released its egg-free mayonnaise alternative called Just Mayo. Consumers weren’t the source of the controversy; instead, the kerfuffle began when food giant Unilever sued the smaller firm. Next, it was revealed that the government-backed American Egg Board had devised plans to undermine the small company. The lawsuit was dropped and the egg board’s chief executive officer retired earlier than originally planned. Unilever eventually released its own version of egg-free sandwich spread that sits alongside its conventional mayonnaise on supermarket shelves. Company information from Hampton Creek says that the organization approves of Unilever’s move, even if it means direct competition. The more companies that get involved in egg-free food production, the better.

The American Egg Board is assigned the task of boosting the demand for eggs and associated products. Did the CEO really resign over the controversy with Hampton Creek? It’s not that easy a question to answer. The CEO had already stated plans to retire; she simply decided to do so earlier than originally announced. It seems as though the unsavory activities of a government-appointed lobby did have something to do with the hasty exit, as explained in a 2015 article published by Slate.com. The activity of promoting the demand for eggs probably isn’t supposed to include tactics such as encouraging a large store chain not to carry certain egg-free products, which is what apparently happened. This was revealed through emails sent by the egg board’s CEO.

All this activity intended to keep Just Mayo out of the hands of consumers seemed to have the opposite effect. Consumers wondered what in the world all the fuss was about when a giant corporation and a government lobbying organization go after a little company producing sandwich spread. From their comments on various websites, they found the lawsuit amusing. Just Mayo’s sales have been strong and the product has proved popular enough to be stocked in some of the biggest grocery chains. Hampton Creek is ready to release many new products in the near future, including salad dressings and baking mixes, all of which will be egg-free.