Supply Chain Sustainability Driven by Egg Farmers
According to a newly released landmark study by the Egg Industry Center, US egg farmers have significantly decreased their environmental footprint from 1960 to 2010. At the same time, researchers found that the industry is producing more eggs while using fewer natural resources and producing less waste.
This finding is significant and as a 30-year industry veteran, I have personally witnessed advances that have led to healthier hens with lower mortality, higher rates of egg production and diminished impact on the environment. This new lifecycle analysis study enables us to identify and quantify for the first time the industry’s dynamic progress.
Specifically, since 1960:
- The egg production process releases significantly less polluting emissions, including a 71 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Hens use 32 percent less water per dozen eggs produced.
- Hens use a little more than half the amount of feed to produce a dozen eggs.
- Hens produce 27 percent more eggs per day
- Hens live longer, with their mortality rate reduced by 57 percent.
These results are significant because:
1. They Help Position Egg Producers to Meet Growing Food Demand:
Our planet is expected to grow to approximately 9.6 billion people by 2050 from 7.2 billion today. With this projected 25 percent growth, the World Bank projects that worldwide food demand will increase by 50 percent by 2030. This makes it critical for farmers and the food industry to manage our planet’s finite resources effectively.
Among the most affordable and nutritious forms of protein, eggs are one part of the solution. This research study indicates that egg farmers are well positioned to meet the increasing food demand while using less water, energy and feed; producing less waste; and emitting fewer carbon emissions in the production process.
2. They Help Food Manufacturers Become More Sustainable:
Eggs are a staple in many meals and an integral raw ingredient in numerous standard grocery items, such as mayonnaise, pasta, cakes and ice cream. As pressure for sustainable operations continues to climb for those engaged in the food-chain supply, many food manufacturers have set notable sustainability targets around their sourcing and supply chain operations. For example, Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan notes that the company aims to halve the environmental footprint for making and using its products by 2020. Egg farmers are responding to the challenge and helping their partners up and down the food-supply chain become more sustainable
3. They Enable Us to Collaborate Across Sectors for Further Efficiencies:
This lifecycle analysis study – the industry’s first to assess the environmental factors involved in producing eggs – pinpoints opportunities for egg farmers to achieve even greater efficiencies ahead. Further investment by the academic community in these particular areas, in addition to collaborating with egg producers, buyers and food companies, will help maintain the momentum to minimize environmental impacts across the value chain and meet shared goals.
Egg farmers have accomplished a great deal on the environmental front in the past half century – and I firmly believe we will generate even a greater impact in the years to come. In working together, we will continue to provide future generations with an affordable and nutritious source of protein while preserving our natural resources and ensuring the health of our planet.
For more information on the study, please visit Incredibleegg.org.
Roger Deffner is presently the chairman of the American Egg Board (AEB), which represents US egg farmers in the education, marketing, and research of eggs and egg products. He is also the vice president of National Food Corporation, a fully integrated producer and processor of eggs headquartered in Everett, Washington. In Deffner’s 30-year career in the egg industry, he has been an acting member of the advisory board of the Egg Industry Center, the chairman and board member of United Egg Producers, a board member of Egg Clearinghouse, Inc., the chairman of the Washington Egg Commission and the vice president of the California Egg Commission.
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