Eggs are difficult foods to trade internationally unless in a processed form. Even now, therefore, less than 3% of eggs produced worldwide are traded between countries.
At present this means approximately 2 million metric tons of eggs traded out of the production of 64 million tons. As chart 1 shows, the largest part of the total traded volume involves shell eggs. But this is confidently expected to undergo a rapid change as more countries develop a market for processed egg products.
This is forecast as one of several important changes in sight for the world egg sector over the next 10 years. With demand driven by developing countries, the global market for eggs in 2020 is predicted to be one-fifth larger than in 2011. For some countries, such as China, the growth rate in this period could be as high as 40%.
From chart 4, the Netherlands has a long history as by far the greatest exporter of eggs each year, with Asia and Europe as the nearest contenders.
In general the EU-27 is considered to be self-sufficient for its egg supplies. However, a number of its member states are net importers, including Germany and the U.K. as well as France, Sweden, Austria and Portugal. Of these, Germany and Austria are attributed the lowest levels of self-sufficiency, at about 70% and 75% respectively.
In the USA, exports of table eggs and egg products are returning to levels not seen since the middle of the 1990s (chart 5). Reports from the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council and the American Egg Board said 3.1% of national egg production had been exported in 2010. About three-quarters of U.S. exports of table eggs go to China-Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and Canada, whereas Japan is the single largest customer for processed egg products.