Changing diets change egg consumption worldwide

Demand for eggs around the world is growing with rising incomes and greater dietary acceptance.

(Photo by Andrea Gantz)
(Photo by Andrea Gantz)

Rising incomes in developing countries and changing diets around the world have changed egg consumption during the past decade. Those in developing countries are able to afford more protein in their diet and have learned the benefits of eggs as a protein source, so they are purchasing eggs whereas they did not purchase them before. In many developed countries, consumption is shifting from conventional eggs to eggs with a claim such as free range, cage free or organic.  

US egg consumption data

U.S. egg consumption is forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to be 279 eggs per person in 2018, making it the highest egg consumption level over the past decade (Figure 1). In the short term, the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report estimates the total number of eggs consumed in the U.S. in 2018 at 7,595.4 million dozen and 7,727 million dozen in 2019, with per capita consumption in 2019 at 280.7 eggs (Table 1). In terms of number of eggs, USDA projects consumption rising from 7,467 million dozen in 2017 to 8,551 million dozen by 2027 (Figure 2).

After hitting a high in 2015, U.S. retail egg prices have moderated over the past two years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (Figure 3). Slightly higher than 2016 in 2017, retail egg prices sat at $1.82/dozen. Although the prices for eggs with a claim such as free range or cage free remain generally higher than conventional eggs, the majority of eggs sold in grocery/retail chains remain the conventional type. According to data from IRI, Grocery Headquarters, private-label eggs still account for the large majority of fresh egg brands being sold in the U.S. in 2018. The three leading brands following private label — Eggland’s Best, led in a distant second by Pete & Gerry’s and then Cal-Maine Sunups (Figure 4) — all offer cage-free or free-range eggs. Data from Simons Research LLC also confirms this, showing that consumers overwhelmingly used nonorganic eggs compared with organic eggs (Figure 5).

Markets to watch

As noted by OECD-FAO’s report, several developing countries around the world are experiencing GDP growth and agricultural innovation, along with changing dietary habits. One of these regions is in the Middle East/North Africa region. Here, the share of meat and eggs in the average diet in the region has grown from 12.2% in 2001 to a projected 15.5% of the diet by 2027.

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