If you imagine that the condiment business is a sleepy one, Hampton Creek is about to prove you wrong. The eggless vegan mayo company has been accused of running a mass mayo-buying operation in order to boost sales and woo investors.
The condiment company, which was founded by Josh Tetrick, received $90 million in investments in 2014, many of which were from Silicon Valley firms looking to get a chunk of change from the company's most popular product: Just Mayo. Within the first few years of operation, Just Mayo could be found on the shelves of the country's most prominent grocery chains, including Walmart and Kroger, which made it all the more appealing to potential investors.
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However, as Bloomberg reported this week, a condiment conspiracy could have been behind the product's early success during its months of funding. Five former Just Mayo employees came forward with hundreds of expense reports, emails, and receipts that showed a strategic buyback of the brand's own product to make it appear more popular to consumers. Using a small army of contractors, the brand sent undercover shoppers to grocery stores around the country to buy out product and request higher orders.