2016 Leadership award winner for Vision

Josh Tetrick

Hampton Creek

Breaking up the egg industry has been Josh Tetrick’s goal for the past four years and he has 34 eggless SKUs to show for it.


Tetrick, 35, is an ambitious entrepreneur with no previous experience in the food industry, yet he’s raised in excess of $200 million from investors. His vision is not to convert the world to veganism, he says, but for everyone to buy and love his dairy-free products, regardless of their diets. “I want to throw out the typical rules, do things faster and deeper,” he says. 

This man in a hurry is from Birmingham, Alabama, and grew up on a diet of chicken wings, biscuits, and grits. The seven years he spent in sub-Saharan Africa greatly affected him, first as a Fulbright Scholar in Nigeria, then working with the Liberian government on investment policies, and with the United Nations in Kenya. In South Africa, he was involved in children’s education and social programs.

“My impact was negligible and that was really frustrating for me,” he rued. He began to dream of doing more for the impoverished people he had encountered there.

While living in Los Angeles in 2011, he co-founded Hampton Creek in his 300-square-foot apartment. He had given up chicken wings long ago to become a vegetarian, and then a vegan—and believed that the current approach to food production needs to change. “We need to take the animal out of the equation and put values back in, and we need a whole new model to make our current system obsolete. Everyone I meet with agrees that food that’s a little more healthful, that tastes better and is better for the land, should be less expensive.”

To match those principles, he decided to create a faux mayonnaise. “I wanted it play out in places around the world that don’t have refrigerators,” he says.

In 2012, he moved to San Francisco to take advantage of the tech workforce. Early investors allowed him to hire a team of data scientists and biochemists to come up with a plant-based formula that would effectively mock mayonnaise. The answer turned out to be non-GMO pea protein blended with canola oil, lemon juice concentrate, white vinegar, garlic, and spices. Just Mayo launched at the end of 2013.


Thousands of outlets carry Just Mayo, from natural food stores to Walmart, Target, Costco, Kroger, Winn-Dixie, and Piggly Wiggly. Compass Group, North America’s leading foodservice company, raking in more than $12 billion in annual revenue, switched from Hellmann’s to Just Mayo for the cafes, cafeterias, and kitchens they supply at Fortune 500 companies, universities, hospitals, museums, and football stadiums. Hampton Creek products are also stocked at 2,300 grade schools and the company also sells other egg-free products such as Just Cookie Dough, Just Cookies, Just Muffins, Just Pancakes, Just Waffles, and Just Balsamic. But it’s Just Mayo that is getting the most attention.

Unilever, which owns Hellmann’s, had earlier filed a lawsuit against Hampton Creek, arguing that Just Mayo was mislabeled since its logo is egg-shaped. According to the FDA, mayonnaise must contain “egg yolk-containing ingredients.” Amid bad press, Unilever withdrew its lawsuit.

“The USDA will be making a decision soon on the Just Mayo name,” Tetrick says. “I feel good about it.”

Just Mayo has clearly become a threat to the established egg industry. Last fall there was more trouble when the American Egg Board, whose members are appointed by the US Secretary of Agriculture, actively campaigned against it. The organization accused Hampton Creek of misbranding and allegedly lobbied Whole Foods and other stores to remove it from the shelves. Tetrick issued a statement “calling for a Congressional investigation into what happened, and we’re optimistic that Congress takes us up on that.” In October, American Egg Board CEO Joanne Ivy resigned over the controversy.

The Future

Tetrick has not forgotten about his commitment to Africa. He has a team in Liberia structuring a project called Just Cafe, an initiative to help young girls from slums understand entrepreneurship. “They’re victims of awful things and so resilient and bold and incredibly creative,” he exuded. Just Cafe is an incubator, he explained, where organizations will partner with Hampton Creek to nurture ideas about the food business and teach marketing and sales techniques.

Hampton Creek recently moved to new headquarters in downtown San Francisco, a 93,000-square-foot facility that once produced chocolate. “Four years ago it was me and my golden retriever,” Tetrick says, “and now I have 90 people on staff.” There is more than enough room for extensive research and development. 

In 2016, the company will expand globally, launching products in China through an e-commerce platform. Tetrick expects the company to go public before long. “We’ve had a few acquisition offers, but that’s not our path,” he says. “Ultimately, for us to do what we want to do and have amazing impact, we want to stay in control.”