NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Hampton Creek -- a small, privately owned startup whose backers include Bill Gates -- is trying to shake up the $11.9 billion global mayonnaise industry that's dominated by Kraft Foods( KFT) and Unilever (UL) - Get Report in the U.S.
Founded in 2011 by entrepreneur Josh Tetrick, Hampton Creek has created a mayonnaise product that doesn't include eggs. Instead the product -- "Just Mayo" -- relies on a formula that uses plants and other natural ingredients.
The eggless mayonnaise is being sold in more than 4,000 stores, including Whole Foods Market (WFM) , Safeway (SWY) , Kroger (KR) - Get Report and Costco (COST) - Get Report. Hampton Creek's products are also sold by small natural-food retailers and are being offered by Amazon's (AMZN) - Get Report food-delivery service which is being tested on the West Coast.
The mayonnaise is also being sold overseas. Hampton Creek recently expanded into Hong Kong's leading grocery store, Park n Shop, through its ties with Asia's wealthiest man, Li Ka-shing, who has helped fund Hampton Creek, along with Gates, venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and Internet entrepreneur Jerry Yang, a co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo (YHOO) .
Hampton Creek has raised almost $30 million, including a $23 million round of funding announced in February.
In the U.S., Hellmann's and Best Foods, both owned by Unilever, control 45.5% of the mayonnaise market. Kraft, with its Kraft Mayo and Miracle Whip brands, controls another 39.4%. Together the four brands make up over 85% of mayonnaise sales.
Hampton Creek also has its eyes set on frozen cookie dough and the egg substitutes. The company will launch a frozen cookie product called Just Cookies and egg substitute called Just Scrambled, which will take on ConAgra Food's (CAG) - Get Report Egg Beaters line of egg substitutes. Hampton Creek already sells a product called Beyond Eggs to other food manufacturers.
Tetrick's long-term plans call for an IPO. He said that several companies have approached him about a buyout, but he said he will keep saying no to offers, even at valuations beyond $1 billion.
At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.
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