More must be done to supply eggs where needed most

Low-income food deficit countries are still failing to enjoy the benefits that a strong egg industry would provide.

The rapid growth in Banglades's egg production is masking the situation in other Low Income Food Deficit Countries. (Vincent Guyonnet)
The rapid growth in Banglades's egg production is masking the situation in other Low Income Food Deficit Countries. (Vincent Guyonnet)

Eggs are known to have numerous health benefits, and these benefits become all the more important where access to plentiful and varied sources of food is limited. 

Low-income food deficit countries (LIFDCs) are defined by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as countries that have a food deficit and low income, meaning that they lack the resources to import food and domestically produce enough. 

There are currently 47 nations listed as LIFDC. Thirty-six are in Africa, two are in the Americas, Haiti and Nicaragua and nine are in Asia, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Syria and Yemen. Some are affected by chronic food production problems while others have seen functioning food value chains devastated by years of war. 

In countries classified as an LIFDC, the nutritional status of vulnerable populations, such as young children, pregnant women or older generations, has the potential to be greatly improved. Eggs are already contributing to the alleviation of food insecurity in these populations.  

Improving situation?

In 2019 and 2020, global egg production increased by 2.3%. In the LIFDC, it rose by 9.4%.  

At first glance, we must rejoice that these countries reported production growth of more than three times than seen at the global level. Egg production appeared to grow where it was really needed.  

Over this one-year period, there were more LIFDCs reporting growth (24) or stable egg production (11) than countries (12) experiencing a decline in egg production. A closer look at the FAO data, however, reveals a different picture.

Bangladesh, which produced 558,992 metric tons of eggs in 2020, accounted for 23.6% of total LIFDC production. However, the expansion in the country’s egg production in 2019-2020 accounted for 87% of the growth across all LIFDCs.  

While we must rejoice for Bangladesh and its continued growth in egg production (+57.9% between 2015-2020, or a compound annual growth rate of 9.5%), there remains much to be done to assist the other LIFDCs and ensure that eggs are produced where they are needed. 

Why eggs matter

Eggs are widely recognized as a great source of high-quality protein, combining high digestibility and bioavailability with an excellent composition of essential amino acids, the building blocks for proteins, that we need in our diets.  

The daily consumption of one egg for six months has been shown to significantly reduce stunted growth in young children. Immunoglobulins, or antibodies, and other molecules involved in the correct functioning of the immune system are also proteins. Therefore, proper nutrition is critical as the world population is attempting to build immunity to ward off the COVID-19 pandemic.

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