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Supply Chain Sustainability Driven by Egg Farmers

deffner, roger, american egg boardAccording 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

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3 thoughts on “Supply Chain Sustainability Driven by Egg Farmers

  1. At the University of Washington, UW Dining, we purchase over 10 million dollars in food and beverages annually. Fifty four percent of those purchases are from local producers. Of these, Wilcox Family Farms and their cage free eggs are at the top of our sustainable food purchases. They are Salmon Safe and Humane Certified. Having a degree in Nutritional Science from the UW, I know the importance of a good protein source and eggs are just that. Buying local cage free eggs as a protein source and reducing the amounts of other meat based proteins in our diet is good for the environment and good for our health and well being.

    Great article!

    Micheal Meyering
    Business and Sustainability Manager
    UW Dining

  2. It would be interesting for the readers to see photos of the Chicken Farming Operation / Operations participating in this Research Study, including the Producing Hen Enclosures. What is the Life Expectancy of an Egg Laying Chicken in this Study?

  3. Seriously speaking, how happy are the hens? Roosters, too. Do they have a good quality of life? Do they get out doors and get to peck at insects? I’m a bit concerned about their water consumption and increased laying–how much does that stress the birds out? And is their end of life humane?

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