Last week we were delighted to interview Adi Yehezkely, the CEO of Fabumin. Adi spoke to us about her plant-based substitute for Albumin (egg protein), along with her view on being a female entrepreneur in Israel.
Please tell me a little bit about yourself, Adi?
Hello, my name is Adi Yehezkely and I am the CEO and co-founder of Fabumin. I live in Tel Aviv with my husband who’s also named Adi, along with my two kids and two dogs.
My entrepreneurial story began almost ten years ago when I decided to become a full-time vegan. I was always a vegetarian but making the move to become vegan eventually led me to my first start-up called Human nature. Human Nature developed and produced vegan cheese during a time when there was nothing on the store shelves for this type of product. Nowadays I see Tel Aviv as the meca of the vegan industry. While involved in the industry, my husband and I noticed there was no good substitute for albumin (egg protein). After a long period of R&D, we founded Fabumin.
What are the specific environmental and economic disadvantages of Albumin?
Well, the albumin itself has multiple disadvantages, the first of which it is animal-based, and not plant-based. I’ve seen over time that customers' demands gravitate towards plant-based products. The second disadvantage that I see is that 12% of the people suffer from egg-related food allergies, as well as 50% of salmonella cases come from contaminated eggs. So the egg itself is seen as a major drawback. The final disadvantage is the environmental cost and resources used. To raise 1 single egg it uses 30 L of fresh water and emits 230g of greenhouse gasses.
How important is it for your company to be sustainable and give back to the environment?
It means everything for us as a company to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. 3% of our company shares belong to the freedom fund charity, to help rescue farm animals. As for the egg protein, by using the leftover wastewater of the legume industry, we are turning “waste into gold”.
It's very important for me as an individual to donate everything we can to animal welfare and show that our activities can reduce the number of animals used in production lines. When it comes to the environment, millions of people don’t have access to fresh water, so, amazingly, I am proud that we can do our part in helping solve this crisis.
Have you experienced any competitors?
Absolutely. Many companies saw the downside to albumin and are trying to replace it. One product is a powder from an ingredients company that only has one function, whereas ours has three (binder, foaming agent, an emulsifier). The second one is companies like JustEgg or IsraeliEgg which use the egg function as a dish instead of functionality. The third group is the aquafaba users, however, the food-tech industry doesn't love working with them because it requires a lot of storage and transportation. The powder is also very expensive, nearly 200 dollars per kilo. What sets us apart is that we hope our product will cost only around 15 dollars per kilo. While we are in a very competitive environment, we see ourselves as an affordable sustainable company.
Can you describe the community of being a female entrepreneur in Tel Aviv?
Israel is a great food tech ecosystem. It's flourishing and bubbling with all sorts of companies. There's a sense of community among these companies who are willing to help each other. I would say that being a female businesswoman is getting easier. At first, it was very awkward going into a room full of men, but I am glad that as we go along things are changing for the better. One of our agendas is hiring women, as I believe it is important to promote each other and support my sisters. Other women entrepreneurs cleared the road for me so I can safely grow my business, and I plan on doing the same for the younger generations. I feel lucky that I am a part of this history.
It's also amazing to see that Facebook groups have been formed for female entrepreneurs of all industries, not just the food-tech sector. There is something unique about being part of a circle that is all working together. And while the individual goals of each company might be different the overall goal of taking care of each other is universal.
What has been the effect of COVID-19 on your business?
It's a two-part answer. In short, COVID-19 destroyed our last business. Human Nature is still operating but in a very small capacity compared to what it was. But on the flip side, we had a lot of time to invest in Fabumin and conduct research about the raw materials we use.
I would like to thank Adi for taking the time to speak with me about Fabumin and the work culture in Israel. Now enjoy this video of her homemade Fabumin cake.