Data on retail egg sales taken from scan data at stores across the United States has provided egg producers a good tally of total sales to the consumer of shell eggs for a number of years. The current method of tallying retail sales from Nielsen's scan data "from all outlets combined" provides solid retail egg sales data for the industry, according to John Howeth, vice president of ingredient and commercial marketing, American Egg Board (AEB). Unfortunately, there is no comparable scan data to tally egg product sales.

Egg products produced in the U.S. are used in food service and processed foods and are exported to other countries. The AEB contracted with Strategic Growth Partners to collect the best data available, and where necessary, use extrapolation to estimate a total for egg products usage in the U.S. In addition to total sales of egg products, information was gathered on the volumes of the various types of egg products and also how the egg products were used. Jerry Smiley, founder, Strategic Growth Partners reported during an AEB webinar that primary and secondary research was used to come up with approximately 71 percent of the totals for egg products usage and that the remaining 29 percent of egg products usage came from extrapolating the results of the other surveys. Egg products export numbers are taken directly from U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS) reports, so the surveys and extrapolation are for food service and food processing usage of egg products. Howeth said that this egg products survey will be repeated annually, so that industry growth and product trends can be followed.

Survey results

Strategic Growth Partners estimates that 2.634 billion pounds of egg products were sold in the U.S. or exported in 2012. Food service is the largest channel for processed eggs, with 58 percent of total usage. The growth rate for processed egg sales from 2011 to 2012 was estimated at 1.7 percent. The growth rates for the three market segments for processed egg products, export, food service and food processing were 6.0, 2.0 and 0.3 percent, respectively.

The study tracked processed egg sales in five forms; liquid, pre-cooked, frozen, dried and hard-cooked. The form of egg products with the largest sales volume is liquid, with 63 percent of the total, followed by pre-cooked with 17 percent. The growth rates of processed egg sales by form were 4.9, 1.4, 0.9, 0.8 and 0.0 percent for precooked, liquid, frozen, dried and hard-cooked, respectively.

QSRs lead the way in food service

Quick service restaurants (QSRs) continue to be the largest food service users of egg products in the U.S., using a third of all food service egg products in 2012. While overall egg products use in food service grew by 2 percent in 2012, the use of precooked egg products rose by 3.5 percent. Precooked egg products made up 20 percent of egg products usage in food service in 2012, trailing only liquid eggs.

Usage in the food processing industry

Over two-thirds of the egg products used by the food processing industry were in liquid form in 2012. Precooked was the only format of processed egg sales to the food processing industry that increased in 2012, growing by 5.0 percent. Overall, the category only grew by 0.3 percent, with declines of 0.6 percent for both frozen and liquid eggs, and a 0.1 percent decline in dried eggs.

The fastest growing use for egg products in processed foods is in the frozen dinner and entrees category, where use grew by 5 percent from 2011 to 2012. Baked goods are the largest user of egg products by food processors followed by frozen dinners and entrees in second place.