Industry Editorial: From Agony to Eggstacy
Have you taken a look at the egg case lately? There's something funny going on.
We talk about milk being a commodity product, but boy, look at eggs! They sell for around a buck a dozen, and what makes one dozen better than another is if none of the eggs are cracked. They are also sometimes used seasonally by free-spirited teenagers to commit random acts of vandalism.Well, that's the way it used to be.
If you don't sell eggs yourself, and you don't do the shopping for the family, you might not realize it, but the plain old sunny-side-up is forking over shelf space to the designer egg. Seems it all started when a simple solution was found to one of the egg's nutritional shortcomings. Most eggs offer consumers a bad balance of fatty acids. But feeding the hen flax seed instead of corn meal lets her produce eggs full of Omega 3, a good fatty acid, and lower in Omega 6. Consumers like that and they'll pay more for it-way more. Like two or three times more! So the egg companies can also produce eggs in a better environment, offer a better package, use all-vegetarian feed, add vitamin E and so on. If you really want to know more about the designer egg revolution take a virtual visit to www.egginnovations.com.
But maybe you would rather know what this has to do with milk (no, I'm not just trying to make you hungry for breakfast.)
This month's special feature is our annual Milk Outlook, and as we do with it each year we will agonize over what dairy processors and the rest of the industry can do and are doing to stem the backward flow of milk consumption.
In doing so we see what looks like a budding trend among those like yourselves who make and market milk and other beverages-and that would be a look inward at what's inside the package. There are a handful of new products on the market (or on the horizon) which endeavor to take one of nature's most perfect foods and make it even better by adding things like Omega 3 or by concentrating protein while reducing fat and lactose. One product in a test market even replaces the milk fat with sunflower oil.
I know what you're thinking. Sounds crazy doesn't it? Why confuse the consumer with more high-priced choices? It's bad enough that they are faced with all those organic, no-RBST products popping up at their bigger and better grocery stores. If we give them too much to think about they'll say "forget it. I'm switching to clam juice for breakfast!"
I'm guessing that a lot of egg marketers had the same worries. But I'm also guessing that overall egg sales and per-capita consumption are on the way up. Just a hunch.