Eat Just laying off 18% of workers with cuts impacting plant-based egg business


Dive Brief:

  • Eat Just is cutting 18% of its workforce, or about 45 people, with the reduction occurring only in its Just Egg division, a spokesperson for the food maker said in an email. The company had 260 employees before the layoffs.
  • The layoffs did not include factory workers making Just Egg, and most of the reductions happened in the U.S. They are part of an effort to reduce expenses and get Eat Just’s egg products closer to profitability, the company spokesman said. The reduction does not impact workers at Good Meat, Eat Just’s cultivated meat division.
  • The decision to cut jobs comes as sales in the segment have been growing and just a few weeks after Just Egg announced it had obtained cost parity with the animal-based alternative.

Dive Insight:

In what has become a frequent occurrence, Eat Just joined the ranks of plant-based food makers in announcing job cuts.

Plant-based meat, in particular, has been hit especially hard after a slowdown in demand. Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat and Maple Leaf Foods’ Greenleaf Foods are among those that have announced job cuts. And last year, JBS USA shuttered its Planterra plant-based business. But not all of the cuts appear to be because of softening demand.

Andrew Noyes, the head of global communications and public affairs at Eat Just, said in an email that the cuts are occurring amid “booming” growth for Just Egg, its mung bean-based egg substitute product. The company sold the plant-based equivalent of about 360 million eggs since it launched, up 85% during the last 12 months. It’s also doubled both Just Egg’s points of distribution and U.S. households to 2.1 million in the last two years. The number of new U.S. households increased by 11% in January alone.

Still, Josh Tetrick, Eat Just’s CEO, told Bloomberg in an interview that despite its recent success, the egg portfolio as a whole is not currently profitable. He said about 20 ongoing initiatives are underway to reduce costs in addition to the layoffs, including cutting spending on ingredients, consolidating operations and increasing production efficiency.

“Given the economic environment, we need to focus even more on building a high-impact company for the long-term, one where JUST Egg sales can fund our work in the future,” Noyes said in an email. “This difficult decision, along with cost reduction measures across our upstream and downstream operations, is necessary to make that happen.”

The layoffs impacting Eat Just’s plant-based egg business appear to be the biggest in the company’s 12-year history. Noyes said there have been “modest staffing changes in years past based on evolving business needs.”

Just Egg appears to be thriving amid the current shortage for eggs, and the recent announcement that it achieved price parity with those from a chicken further gives the offering added momentum with cash-strapped consumers battling higher costs for a wide-range of expenses, including food. Prices of eggs at the grocery store jumped 70.1% in January compared to 12 months prior, according to the U.S. government.

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About the Author

Jervie David Montejar
A food lover who wants to try every delicious dishes around him and spread the news to everyone to try it as well. Finding the latest trends about food and restaurants around Cebu and the rest of the world :) "Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." -Ernestine Ulmer
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