While in some countries, consumers have the opportunity to choose between eggs from laying hens, quails, ducks, pigeons or even ostriches. Many of us in front of the egg counter at the local grocery store have only the choice between brown and white chicken eggs.
Not everyone, however, even has that choice. In the U.K., for example, 99% of eggs sold are brown, while in Iran and Mexico 98% of eggs sold are white.
The case of brown eggs versus white eggs is interesting as it relates more to history, tradition and cultural preferences. The strains of birds first domesticated in a region have created a consumer habit for shell color and, as we know, consumer habits are extremely hard to change.
The shell color preference of consumers in Wisconsin, USA, for example, have barely changed since an early survey conducted back in 1965.
How do you like your eggs?
With brown eggs, there are different color tones. Consumers in some countries like darker brown shells. This is just another criterion to worry about during the genetic selection process of a new hen generation!
The North America market is dominated by white eggs - Canada, 87%; USA, 93% and Mexico 98%. Interestingly, the White Leghorn, popular in North America, originated from Tuscany, a region of Italy where 80% of the consumers purchase brown eggs.
In some countries, even regional differences for shell color have emerged. In China, 65% of the market is for brown eggs and 35% for white eggs while the exact opposite is observed with consumers in South Africa.
In Argentina and the USA, consumers from certain regions prefer one color of shell while the rest of the country overwhelmingly prefers the other.
Interestingly, in countries where consumers predominantly purchase white eggs, they tend to view brown eggs more nutritious. Maybe this is due to the fact that organic and free-range eggs in these countries are brown for ease of tracking their authenticity and differentiation. However, consumes still believe that these egg colors are more nutritious.