Last fall the American Egg Board got caught with egg on its face in a seeming conspiracy with Unilever to bring down Hampton Creek, the makers of Just Mayo, which doesn't have any eggs in it. After the FDA sent a warning letter to Hampton Creek telling the company it needed to change the name of its product because it "does not conform to the standard for mayonnaise," details of the events leading up to the FDA's warning emerged. I did some research in another post, and there was some low-level collusion between the USDA-backed American Egg Board and Unilever officials to bring Hampton Creek to the FDA's attention and get stores like Whole Foods to not carry Just Mayo.
In the end, the FDA said Just Mayo could keep its name with a few tweaks to its label, and Fortune declared the Mayo Wars had ended. Perhaps the publication spoke too soon.
On Feb. 2, Unilever announced it was releasing its own eggless, vegan mayonnaise, Carefully Crafted Dressing and Sandwich Spread. What looked to be a story about Unilever trying to squash the competition for its regular mayonnaise brands, Hellman's and Best Foods, has turned into a different kind of story: it looks like the big food manufacturer was trying to squash the competition because it had a similar product in development. (Hellman's also has its first organic mayonnaise in the works.)
Following the chain of events has been interesting. It's also interesting that Unilever believes there is enough demand for a vegan mayonnaise; it's a sustainable move. Plant-based foods are more sustainable than foods made from animal products and if something as common as mayonnaise can be made from only plants and still satisfy consumers, the more the merrier when it comes to the number of manufacturers.
Josh Tetrick, Hampton Creek's CEO, feels the same way. In a statement to the Washington Post, Tetrick says Unilever's new product will help create a bigger market for plant-based alternatives.
"I hope Kraft follows Unilever, then I hope Kraft and Unilever compete," Tetrick said.