The CEO of the organization that brought us the “Incredible, Edible Egg” slogan has resigned/retired after emails were released that show she did not want a vegan mayonnaise to go on sale at Whole Foods.
Joanne Ivy, the chief executive of the American Egg Board retired late last month instead her planned retirement date of December 31st.
The emails in issue were reported by the Associated Press in early September. In one email, Ivy told a company consultant that she would “like to accept your offer to make that phone call to keep Just Mayo off Whole Foods shelves.”
The American Egg Board’s actions were directed to a startup company called Hampton Creek, based in San Francisco. The company makes an eggless mayonnaise alternative, called Just Mayo.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investigating the situation.
The 2013 request by the American Egg Board did not result in keeping Just Mayo of off Whole Foods’ shelves, and it is still sold there today.
The USDA said in a statement that it is “committed to establishing a level playing field that protects and promotes all appropriate agricultural endeavors.” The USDA further said that it did not “condone any efforts to limit competing products in commerce” and that its administrative investigation would take “some time.”
The American Egg Board appears to view Hampton Creek as a threat to eggs everywhere, as the company makes plant-based alternatives to eggs. Egg Board executives avoid referring to the company by name in order to deflect publicity away from the company.
The emails by the American Egg Board executives were obtained as a result of a request for public records made by Ryan Noah Shapiro, a Freedom of Information Act expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his lawyer, Jeffrey Light.
Shapiro is friends with Hampton Creek co-founder, Josh Balk, and provided the documents to the company, which then provided them to the Associated Press.