Matthew Havers is founder of Peck drinks and managing partner at Kings Farm Foods, a farm in North Suffolk which keeps 16,000 free-range poultry for egg production.
Inspiration for the protein drink business came when there was a particularly large batch of eggs classified as ‘seconds’, meaning they were not suitable for retail.
At a farm level, eggs are classified as second-grade for reasons such as eggshell colour, texture and size (under 34 g or over 75 g). A good flock typically has around 2-3% seconds but in a bad flock this could be as high as 6-8%
Although the safety and quality of the egg itself is not at fault, the low price farmers get for second-class eggs, coupled with poor supply chains, mean many often end up as waste; Peck was born from a desire to find a use for these eggs.
A complete source of nutrition
“Eggs are a remarkable source of complete nutrition, but just lack innovation when it comes to occasion uptake and convenience," Havers told
FoodNavigator. "Egg white is classed as of the highest quality proteins, both in terms of absorption and amino acid profile.”
And while much of the current conversation around protein is on plant-based sources, eggs have the advantage of being used as a 'whole ingredient' in a very pure form, he said.
“Whey and plant proteins are very processed and highly refined, often only being added as concentrates or isolates, removing a large portion of the nutrition that comes from the plant itself.”
Whey proteins, which dominate the market, are also unsuitable for lactose intolerant or dairy-free consumers.
It’s also “surprisingly” easy to bring consumers around to the idea of eating liquid eggs, Havers said.
“We did a soft launch at Food Matters Live in 2016 and had a remarkable uptake from consumers and retailers alike. Only a tiny proportion of people were adverse to trying it due to the egg. The overwhelming feedback is that you would never know Peck drinks contain 66% egg white.”
Peck packs a protein punch
One bottle of Peck contains five egg whites, or 20 g of protein, and the sugar-free drink is sweetened with stevia. It is also has no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners, and is free from preservatives.
“Some of the 3 years of hard graft have been in [keeping the formulation preservative-free]. Our heating process and ingredients work together to keep a
healthy internal environment for the egg,” Havers said.
The drinks have a 60-day shelf life both in ambient and chilled conditions. “It was important for us to ensure the drinks were stable at room temperature to ensure people could take the drinks out and about with them.”
The start-up that built its own factory
“We spent 18 months trying to find a manufacturing partner that proved to eventually be unsuccessful. Most processors were unable to deal with liquid egg, or were unable to offer a packaging format suitable for convenient markets.
“Due to this, we are setting up our own manufacturing to suit the product and our process. The process is relatively simple but is lengthier than [other] commercial processes. This is all due to us wanting to preserve the entire amino acid profile of the egg white, so we have to stay beneath 59C for a longer hold time to ensure safety and quality.”
The factory is scheduled to be up and running by the end of next month (November) and will immediately begin manufacturing to fulfull pre-orders that have come on the back of the soft launch as well as word-of-mouth.
The plant will have an initial manufacturing capacity of around 2500 bottles a day, which could be increased to around 5000 if demand required it.
Fighting food waste
Peck will initially be targeting the UK as its main market – it has pending retail listings with various London-based subscription and snacking apps, as well as regional and health and wellness stores around the UK - but it has already had several white label enquiries from EU markets.
The ingredient list
Egg White, Water, Grape juice from concentrate, Soy Powder, Malic Acid,Strawberry juice from concentrate (0.5%), Lime juice from concentrate (0.5%) Soy Lecithin, Pectin, Natural Flavours, Steviol Glycosides
It is also in talks with a major UK retailer to see if there is an opportunity in processing eggs that are destined for the bin, as a result of 'in store' waste.
"The retailer we are in discussions with has between 3-4% waste from in store. This can be as a result of surpassing a 'best before' date, as well as dozen boxes that contain one broken egg as a result of damage. Unfortunately, in this instance, the remaining 11 eggs go to waste."
"It is very early days, but as the brand progresses it is a version of reality that we want to work towards," Havers added.
Many of Peck’s farms also grow hemp and oats, and it is also considering diversifying its portfolio to include oat and hemp milk varieties in the future.
Peck has so far used its own funds to finance the product development process, with help from a £30,000 (€33,800) from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative to cover research, prototyping and machinery costs.
It plans to roll out a crowdfunding campaign for the product next year when it is more widely available.