Indian egg production, consumption to keep rising

Egg consumption and production levels have risen dramatically in India, and with a strongly-growing economy, there is still much potential for further growth.

The majority of egg sales in India are still in bulk without branding. | Vincent Guyonnet, DVM
The majority of egg sales in India are still in bulk without branding. | Vincent Guyonnet, DVM

Under the “business as usual” scenario, India is set to overtake the U.S. as the second largest egg producing country by 2022 based on data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). However, these days nothing is really business as usual in India.  

The recent annual FAO- Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Agricultural Outlook predicts that India will soon become the world’s most populous country and will enjoy a 6.3% growth in gross domestic product per annum until 2027 which is well above the global average of 1.8%. Two of the four main drivers for food demands, population growth and rising income levels are going to increase consumer demand for food, especially that of animal origin. 

Animal-sourced foods in India? The stereotype of India as a vegetarian country is so prevalent that I also believed that this was the main impediment to growth in egg consumption in India. 

A visit to the 13th Poultry Knowledge Day Conference in Hyderabad, India made me appreciate the true potential of eggs in India. 

Only about 30% of the 1.4 billion Indians are vegetarians, meaning that 70%, or close to a billion citizens, eat a combination of fish, meat and eggs. In 2018, Indians ate an average of 76 eggs per person, or about 100 fewer than the global average of 177. 

Potential for more

While egg consumption in the country has increased by an outstanding 58% over the past 10 years, we continue to see huge disparities. Urban residents eat about 170 eggs each year, almost at par with the world average, while their rural counterparts consume only 22 eggs. In spite of this rather low consumption of eggs by Western standards, it was surprising to see repeatedly that cholesterol was cited as a main objection to higher consumption. Clearly, there is an opportunity to apply the tools developed and used by Western countries to dispel this myth on the negative effects of cholesterol in eggs. 

This is especially important in India where 190 million are still undernourished and 50% of infant mortality is due to malnutrition. As proven time and again, eggs are an affordable source of quality protein that can contribute to growth in children and alleviate some of the long-term effects of malnutrition.    

There are about 10 thousand egg farmers in India with an average farm size of 30 thousand hens, and about 60% of production comes from farms with over 100 thousand hens. 

Currently, egg production is dominated by a few states, mostly in the south and west of India, meaning that eggs must be transported across long distances to meet rising consumer demands. 

Helping hand

However, the Indian government has recently recognized the importance of animal production with the creation of the Ministry for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairy, and more visibility at the highest level of the nation is going to further boost the confidence of local producers to invest in the egg sector. 

However, as pointed out by Dr. G. Ranjith Reddy, member of the Indian parliament, during his keynote address to participants at the Poultry Knowledge Day: “We should not just produce, we should also promote.” Indeed, promoting eggs with consumers and addressing their key concerns are a proven recipe for growth, and this approach will work equally well in India.        

Since the average egg size in India is only 55 grams compared to 60 grams in the U.S., it seems that India is already producing more eggs than the U.S. as recently reported locally in India.  We are witnessing the rise of a new giant!



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