How Hampton Creek Foods is Cracking the Egg Industry - And Why It Matters

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John Wargo
Essay Abstract: 
In the last few years, venture capitalists – such as Li Ka-Shing (the wealthiest man in Asia) and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers (one of the first VC firms to invest in Amazon and Google) – have been pouring serious money into funding imitation animal food products. The companies that these big name investors are backing have goals far more ambitious than tweaking the Tofurky burger or catering to niche markets of vegans and vegetarians. These start-ups aim to revolutionize our food system and change what mainstream America eats by using plant proteins in novel ways to create meat, dairy and egg substitutes that are often indistinguishable from – and far more resource and cost efficient to produce than – their real counterparts. This thesis is a case study of one of these companies, the four-year-old San Francisco- based Hampton Creek Foods, founded by Josh Tetrick and Josh Balk. The goal of this thesis is to tell the story of Hampton Creek to date and to find out how Hampton Creek is working to transform sectors of our industrial food system, what technical and business- related challenges and opportunities the company faces, and, if successful, what impact Hampton Creek’s products will have on the environment. This knowledge will be practically useful to consumers, investors and policymakers who seek to determine if supporting Hampton Creek and companies like it – with purchases, investments or subsidies/ tax breaks – is an effective way to move towards a more sustainable and humane food system.