Unilever, the parent company for mega-mayonnaise brand Hellman’s, is suing three-year-old Silicon Valley startup, Hampton Creek—maker of Just Mayo—the egg-free mayonnaise that claims to not only perform better than the other stuff, but do it without the addition of any animal products.
According to Unilever, a 1950s FDA definition says mayonnaise contains eggs, and Unilever says that Hampton Creek is infringing on this definition. Not to mention Unilever’s 50 percent mayonnaise market share.
“Unilever is seeking compensation for lost profits and damages and demanding that Hampton Creek refrain from declaring Just Mayo superior in taste to Unilever’s Best Foods and Hellman’s brands of mayonnaise,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
“We brought this lawsuit because use of the Just Mayo name blatantly misleads consumers,” a Unilever spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement to the Times. “In fact, the product is Just NOT Mayo as it does not contain one of mayonnaise’s key ingredients — eggs — in violation of the federal regulations that are in place to protect consumers.”
Now, Hampton Creek founder and CEO Josh Tetrick says Hampton Creek will file a countersuit against Unilever over its sustainability practices. And the company says the Unilever lawsuit will be beneficial for Hampton Creek because, reports the Times, “it will draw attention to a food system he calls ‘antiquated’.”
Just Mayo uses a yellow pea protein in place of eggs, which Tetrick says makes his product stay emulsified longer, and therefore better at spreading on sandwiches. Adding insult to injury, the Just Mayo jar logo features an egg with a pea shoot piercing it.
Mayonnaise and mayonnaise-like products (Miracle Whip is sold technically as a salad dressing) are the top-selling condiments in the U.S. In just three years, Just Mayo has earned shelf space in stores including Whole Foods Market, Target, Vons, Dollar Stores and Costco.
Mayonnaise image via Shutterstock