Consumers cluck over chickens and eggs

by Erica Shaffer
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Consumer concerns about animal welfare are driving interest in cage-free and organic eggs, according to Packaged Facts.

ROCKVILLE, Md. – Food marketers are capitalizing on egg products that come from cage-free chickens and are free of antibiotics in response to consumer demand for more information about the source and treatment of the foods they eat, Packaged Facts said in its Egg Market Trends and Opportunities in the US report.

Packaged Facts found that 30 percent of consumers surveyed seek out products labeled as “natural” or “high protein” while 20 percent gravitate to organics and products with high omega-3 content. Young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 years old and Asian Americans are most likely to seek out organic eggs.

“Not too many years ago organic and cage-free eggs were available almost exclusively from either farm stands, farmers markets or in specialty natural or health food stores,” said David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts. “Today they are easily found in mainstream supermarkets.”

A standout in the cage-free and organic segment is Happy Egg Co. in the United Kingdom, according to Packaged Facts. Happy Egg, with its “happy hens,” established a presence in the United States in 2012 with products selling from 500 stores. Currently, Happy Egg supplies eggs to 6,500 stores including Walmart and Costco.

Now, major food companies are getting in on the cage-free egg trend. McDonald’s announced plans to transition to cage-free eggs at its stores in the US and Canada. Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and broadline foodservice distributors Sodexho and Aramark also have pledged to source cage-free eggs. Additionally, organic eggs increasingly are becoming a significant segment of the egg market, Packaged Facts noted.

Packaged Facts’ Egg Market Trends and Opportunities in the US analyzes the egg market following the avian influenza outbreak. The report examines evolving consumer demand for high quality protein, in addition to the food industry’s response to the reemergence of breakfast as the most important meal of the day, breakfast sandwiches and the trend of all-day breakfast.

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