The International Egg Commission's Business Conference has been opened by the organization's President Cesar de Anda. Taking place in Vienna, the event's delegates heard about the importance of traceability, food safety and specialist egg products - all important when it comes to the commercialization of eggs, an area to which producers need to give greater focus.

"The world's egg producers should be proud of the IEC. We need to construct our own future, and everyone must play a part in this," said de Anda.

The importance of the consumer was widely discussed. In host country Austria, for example, it was mentioned that animal rights and environmental concerns are important to consumers. Konrad Blas, from the country's Agriculture Ministry, commented that this helped to drive the strategy for quality production.

One of the most striking presentations at the conference's opening event was that given by Professor David Hughes, who looked at the recession and its impact on purchasing.

Hughes noted that consumers worldwide have cut back on spending in shops. Comfort is being sacrificed, while discounts and online purchases are increasing in popularity. He added that, in his home country of the U.K., supermarket chains are turning part of their retail space into cafes, restaurants or bakeries, to occupy space that is no longer needed for groceries. They are also building fewer outlets and those that are being built are small and, overall, their smaller shops are performing better than their larger branches.

"What will this mean for the egg industry?" Hughes asked.

Delegates were also told that the egg industry has not always been as good as it could be in communicating the benefits of eggs - for example, their nutritional value. The example was given of water exported from Fiji and celebrated as the "elixir of life." Something similar should be done for eggs, highlighting that the egg is one of humankind's oldest foods, and working with retailers may be one way to achieve this.