AEB announces egg innovation center as part of its 5-year plan

Among AEB's 5 year strategic goals is creating innovation through a best-in-class egg innovation center that drives the industry forward and creates more opportunities for egg consumption.

Emily Metz is the president and CEO of the American Egg Board. (Len Spoden)
Emily Metz is the president and CEO of the American Egg Board. (Len Spoden)

While the goals look simple on paper, they will be lofty in practice, Emily Metz, president and CEO of the American Egg Board (AEB) explained during the AEB Strategic Plan Press Briefing on November 19.

Among those goals is sparking innovation that a best-in-class egg innovation center that drives the industry forward and creates more opportunities for egg consumption.

"To maintain our competitive edge and preserve our position as the primary protein of choice, we have to increase that usage, frequency and occasion like we talked about. Knowing that the marketplace is right for disruption, we have to continue to put eggs in front of consumers in new and exciting ways," Metz explained.

To do that she explained that a mini incubator within AEB needs to be created. "What we are going to work towards doing over the next several years is setting up an innovation center that will allow us to pressure test ideas for products, packaging, production techniques and menu items in a precompetitive way, that takes the risk out of new ideas and creates a safe space for us to pressure test concepts on behalf of the entire egg industry," she said.

This will mean creating a list of ideas that can be narrowed down to the most promising that the industry will then be able to act on. AEB's role is determining which ideas are going to come to fruition. Metz explained that while the ideas are filtered and there is a process that is designed for how to evaluate ideas, she sees them in three key buckets.

"The first are things that AEB is going to own ourselves. Things that we are going to completely work up that we are going to work to bring to fruition ourselves. That is probably going to be the smallest bucket. The second bucket is things that we are going to pressure test/trial on behalf of the industry and then give back to the industry pre-competitively to say we have taken the risk out of this, we've tested this concept, we have proof of concept in hand and now someone needs to take it and run with it and obviously we are a checkoff can't pick who can take and run with it, so we are going to have to give it to the total industry to decide who has the total bandwidth to take that opportunity or idea and run with it. The third bucket, which I really see as probably the largest bucket are innovations that we are going to bring to fruition through partnerships or collaborations. These might be everything from working with QSR chains to bring new menu items to fruition, it might be a new product item in a convenience store, it might be a new product to help solve that global malnutrition piece through an NGO (Non-governmental organization) or a hunger organization abroad," said Metz.

She believes the biggest chunks of innovation will ultimately come to fruition from collaborations where investments are split and AEB can help support those ideas with marketing dollars and promotions.

Metz said 2021 will be a building year to outline the processes for innovation and positioning AEB as a collaborator.

AEB will be expanding its team to meet innovation needs by bringing in people with backgrounds in product development, research and development and innovation processes.

"You'll hear a lot more from us next year in how we are doing establishing that foundation and then in future years you are going to hear a lot from us in how we are moving faster on some of the collaboration and partnerships we are undertaking in the innovation space," she said.

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