10 Secrets You Never Knew About Hampton Creek
VegNews investigates what the Just Mayo-maker is doing behind closed doors.
Whether it’s the Just Mayo-maker fighting against corporate giant Unilever, defending itself against scandals perpetrated by the American Egg Board, or countering allegations that it bought back its own products to inflate sales, San Francisco-based food technology company Hampton Creek is often in the news. The brand’s most recent battle with Target—in whcih the mega retailer pulled 20 Hampton Creek products off its shelves based on allegations made in a fraudulent letter it received—turned out conspicuously not in its favor.
Nonetheless, Hampton Creek is forging forward. With its recent entry into “clean meat" (made from a small amount animal cells) and its newly FDA-greenlit ingredient “Jack” (a mung bean-based protein it plans to debut in its newest product, Just Scramble), we had to see for ourselves exactly what Hampton Creek is doing. During our recent visit, we made sure to look under every vegan mayonnaise jar and sniff every batter of Just Cookie Dough … and what we uncovered was incredible, shocking, and, at times, downright adorable. Here’s what we found:
1. Several board members might have departed from the company in recent months, but despite reports that the company is losing employees faster than the Beyond Burger bleeds beets, the office is filled with people and energy. In the last year alone, the amount of Hampton Creek employees increased from 70 to 130, and new board members will soon be announced.
2. Hampton Creek’s San Francisco office is housed in a facility that was used by Pixar and is currently filled with desks (and a conference room table) repurposed from old stadium seats sourced from the University of California, Berkeley. In its first iteration, the office was used as a white bread factory.
3. Despite rumblings from certain media outlets to the contrary, this Just Mayo brand is really a food technology company. Hampton Creek's Director of Biochemistry Viviane Lanquar says she’s building an “encyclopedia of sorts” with a wide assortment of plants the company has gathered during the years from more than 50 countries.
4. There is a section of Hampton Creek’s office that’s dedicated to Just machines—worth millions of dollars, with some custom made for the company. Each machine analyzes various properties of plants to determine which would be best for replacing all kinds of animal products.
5. CEO Josh Tetrick’s late Golden Retriever, Jake, is forever with him in the office, as a photo of him—wearing lab goggles—hangs in the clean meat lab overseeing world-changing operations. In fact, the office is very dog-friendly in general; we spotted two adorable puppies cuddling under a desk for several hours during our visit (we tried to take one home; they wouldn’t let us).
6. The clean meat team has set their goals very high. A composite photo of the most difficult meat to create in a lab hangs in the office; namely otoro tuna, chicken breast, and a wagyu steak. The team told us that once they are able to create these meats using a small amount of cells—and a plant-based serum they're working to develop—each will be much more affordable for consumers.
7. The company is in talks with some of the world’s largest meat-producing companies to license its clean meat technology. Tetrick hopes that working with these companies can usher in a new, innovative era for the global meat industry.
8. The company’s newest product, Just Scramble, is set to revolutionize the vegan egg industry. The faux egg cooks in approximately three minutes (comparable to a chicken egg), has no foul smell, and its base ingredient is a mung bean-derived protein isolate—recently greenlit by the FDA. This means that chefs in the foodservice industry will not need extra training to work with Just Scramble as it will seamlessly replace eggs in all culinary preparations.
9. Many of the employees are high-energy and run on an ample supply of fresh-baked cookies—made from Just Cookie Dough, of course—two on-tap beers, and a motivation to remove animals from our broken food system.
10. Tetrick is incredibly determined—we’re talking a laser pointer aligned with a laser beam level of focused. He believes the consumption of animal protein will increase by 100 percent by 2050 and sees every hiccup along the road not as a block but as motivation to move forward with his goal to disrupt the animal agriculture industry by any means necessary—whether it be taking eggs out of mayonnaise, introducing vegan salad dressings, or replacing whole animals with clean-meat technologies.
Bonus: Hampton Creek co-founder Josh Balk—an animal activist and senior food policy director at the Humane Society of the United States—is “besties” with Josh Tetrick (and has been since they were teenagers), and the pair is determined to turn animal agriculture on its head.
Anna Starostinetskaya is VegNews news editor and will be “Just Waiting” outside of Hampton Creek HQ for the rest of the year until a new amazing product accidently falls out of a window.
Photos courtesy of Anastasiia Sapon
In 2018, Being Vegan Also Means Being a Recycler
Recycling saves the planet (and its inhabitants) and is great for tight budgets.
Read More »
Well, That Was Quick. 7 Ways Were Breaking Our 2018 Resolutions with the New Vegan Ben & Jerrys Flavors
The debut of the new flavors from this iconic ice cream brand have us dreaming of all the ways we plan on eating them.
Read More »
How a Vegan Celebrity Chef Became One of Biggest Influencers in Atlanta
Chef Ahki brings a much-needed relevance and relatability to many who never imagined themselves going vegan.
Read More »
4 Vegan Athletes Who Think You Need to Join the #PlantMilkChallenge
Cruelty-free athletes explain why they ditched dairy and how they fuel their bodies with plant-based milks.
Read More »
From 6 Months to Live to a New Lease On Life: Veganism Saved Her Life
In the popular Veganism Saved My Life series, we share stories of people who have witnessed extraordinary health overhauls thanks to a plant-based diet.
Read More »
- If Your Baby Could Talk, They Would Tell You They Really Want Vegan Diaper Ointments
- If Going Vegan is Your Resolution This Year, Read This
- 2018 is the Year of the Vegan Wine and Cheese Pairings
- How a Vegan Restaurateur Balances Work and a Hunter Husband
- You Are Only 6 Steps Away from Your Best Vegan Year Ever
- Everything You Need to Know About Milk Substitutes
- Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams' Enforced Policy Literally Saved His Life
- Frick 2017! Heres What VegNews Editors Plan to Do in 2018 …
- Want to Lower Your Blood Pressure? Go Vegan!
- Are Your Sweeteners as Vegan and Ethical as You Are?
- Is So-Called Clean Meat Vegan? Paul Shapiro Has the Answer
- The 12 Best Vegan Desserts of All Time at Trader Joes
- Winter Doesnt Stand a Chance Thanks to These 5 Vegan Skin Products
- Why Jackie Day Should Be Your New Vegan BFF
- 9 Vegan Startups You Need to Know About in 2018
- 2018 is the Year Your Skin Goes Vegan, Too
- Top 10 Vegan Recipes of 2017
- Forget Cookies. Here are the 7 Vegan Treats Santa Really Wants This Year ...
- 6 Survival Tips for Vegans at Holiday Parties
- 10 Last-Minute Vegan Stocking Stuffers for the Best Christmas Ever