Global egg sector fared well during the COVID-19 pandemic

Learn how the global egg industry performed during the first year of the pandemic and where growth was strongest.

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The continued expansion of egg production in Indonesia is providing much needed protein. Vincent Guyonnet
The continued expansion of egg production in Indonesia is providing much needed protein. Vincent Guyonnet

The release of a new batch of data from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) allows us to see how well the egg sector performed during 2019-2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data is encouraging as the sector grew by 2.7%, adding 2.3 million metric tons (MT) of eggs to feed the world â€“ about five more eggs per person on the planet.

During the year, egg production grew faster than milk production, which rose by 1.1%, chicken meat production, which increased by 0.7%, pork, up by 0.2%, and beef, which was stagnant. Only sheep and goat meat production, rising by 3.1%, grew at a faster rate than egg production, highlighting the importance of cheap, low-processed animal protein at a time of global crisis.

Regional variation

Asia and Latin America recorded the strongest growth in 2020, with egg production rising by 3.9% and 3.5%, respectively, ahead of Europe which grew by 0.5%. Production in North America declined by 1.1%, in Africa it fell by 1.3%, while in Oceania output was 3.5% lower.

The main contributors to global growth were China, which produced an additional 1.37 million MT of eggs, Indonesia, which recorded 291,013 MT more and Bangladesh up by 177,358 MT. The growth in egg production in Bangladesh and Indonesia, which have a combined population of 438 million, is welcome news for these countries where 28-30% of children under the age of five suffer from stunting. 

Of all the countries that reported to the FAO for 2019-2020, 107 reported an increase in egg production, for 17 production was flat, while 66, evenly distributed across continents, reported a contraction. 

Amongst those countries that recorded the largest declines were: Iran, down by 113,851 MT, Egypt, down by 90,160 MT, and the U.S., where output fell by 99,048 MT. Egg production also fell in countries affected by long-term turmoil, for example Venezuela, where output fell by 10.2% in 2019-2020.

Some island nations, such as Saint Kitts and Nevis where output grew by 40.8%, Antigua and Barbuda, up by 28.6%, and Jamaica, where production increased by 24.9%, have recorded notable production increases, perhaps driven by the difficulties in importing shell eggs while the global transport sector was adjusting to new protocols. 

The Dominican Republic, where tourism accounts for over 8% of the economy, was severely affected by COVID-19. Nevertheless, its egg production grew by 10.8%.


In terms of consumption, the global average annual increased from 180 to 185 eggs per person. 

In Latin America it increased by 3.1% from 257 to 265 eggs per person, with Colombia (+33 eggs), Brazil (+21 eggs) and Argentina (+18 eggs) experiencing some of the world’s highest annual increases in shell egg consumption. In Asia consumption rose from 187 to 194 eggs, an increase of 3.7%, while in Africa, it was stagnant at 44 eggs per person. 

Within Europe, the fantastic growth in shell egg consumption in Spain (+23 eggs) and Denmark (+16 eggs) was somewhat negated by lower consumption of egg products, down by 26 eggs per capita in Spain and 13 eggs lower in Denmark. The same situation was observed in Japan, the U.S. and Canada, where egg products account for 30-50% of total egg consumption.    

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