5 challenges facing the global egg industry

Egg production has had a tremendous improvement in the past 30 years, but it still faces many other issues that need to be tackled.

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Brown Eggs With Continents
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This week, during the AVEM meeting in Pachuca, Mexico, I attended the presentation of Professor Lucio Francelino Araujo of the University of SĂŁo Paulo, Brazil on the challenges the modern layer industry is facing. I think it was a very clever presentation.

Professor Lucio Francelino Araujo of the University of SĂŁo Paulo, BrazilProfessor Lucio Francelino Araujo of the University of SĂŁo Paulo, BrazilBenjamĂ­n Ruiz

The challenges are summarized in four subject areas:

1. Providing food to a growing population,

2. Whether or not the consumer is able to pay more for eggs (as in cage-free, free-range, organic eggs),

3. Layer stress and welfare, and

4. Layer health.

And I will add a fifth one: sustainability.

Providing food to the entire population is a challenge that everybody in the ag sector faces. Araujo gave many details and data on animal protein consumption. What attracted my attention was the difference between three Latin American nations: Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, regarding the proportions of proteins from beef in Argentina compared to Mexico, as well as the high rate of vegetable protein in many countries.

Concerning whether consumers are able or want to pay more for eggs, it is surprising to see that European countries such as Switzerland, Austria and Germany produce 100% (or close to it) of eggs via those alternative systems such as cage-free and free-range. Whereas, Mexico has practically 100% of eggs coming from caged birds and Brazil 95%. Could it be that populations in these two countries have a smaller income and dedicate more money to buying food? I wonder if these people would like to spend more money on food.

Regarding animal welfare, the industry faces issues such as forced molting, beak trimming, one-day-old male chick euthanasia and bone problems. Forced molting is more common in Mexico than in other Latin American nations, but maybe with the new genetic lines, it is destined to disappear. And in animal health, many diseases such as avian flu and Salmonella are Mexico’s nightmare.

Araujo included sustainability as an opportunity, but I am adding it in this blog as a challenge. It is actually both because, yes, we need to work more and more on sustainable egg production, but we do have an “undiscovered” treasure that needs to be shouted from the rooftops. Not only Araujo, but some other speakers, talked about how much the egg producing industry has improved in sustainability in the last 30 years.

What do you think?

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