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Eggs: What we buy, pay, want

Published May. 12, 2010 | Discuss this article on Facebook

Feedstuffs | May 10, 2010

By ROD SMITH

American consumers buy eggs from cage housing systems by a margin of more than 40 to one over eggs from cage-free systems, according to data from Information Resources Inc. (IRI), which tracks checkout scanner transactions from 34,000 grocery and other retail stores in the U.S.

Furthermore, based on other research, Americans pay three times less for eggs than Europeans do. Also, more than half of Americans prefer that egg producers continue to use current cage housing or migrate to alternative systems such as aviary or colony cages, and 44% prefer cage-free housing.

These research results were to be presented to egg producers at the United Egg Producers (UEP) board of directors legislative meeting this week in Washington, D.C. An advance copy of the research was made available to Feedstuffs last week.

Choice

The IRI data found that 92% of all eggs consumers purchased in retail stores in 2009 were from cage operations, just 2% were from cage-free operations and only 1% were from free-range/organic operations (Figure). The remaining 5% of eggs were other specialty eggs, and the percentages were unchanged from 2008.

"Our farmers produce all of these kinds of eggs," UEP president Gene Gregory said.

He emphasized that UEP's position always has been that consumers should be free to choose the kind of egg they want to buy based on their ability to pay and their own personal opinions.

Gregory said "it's disturbing" that animal rights activists are trying to force restaurant and retail companies to take away that choice by making them buy eggs from only cage-free operations.

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