The IEC Young Egg Leaders Programme brings together highly motivated future leaders from egg businesses around the world to support their professional development. In our final article in the series, current YEL’s Michael Griffiths, New Product Development Manager at Oakland Farm Eggs, UK, and Opeyemi Agbato, Executive Director Animal Health and Husbandry at Animal Care, Nigeria, share their views on the future challenges, threats and opportunities the egg industry may face. 

What is the biggest untapped opportunity for the egg industry?

Michael: I believe there are lots of untapped opportunities for our industry. On the go and convenience products have witnessed significant growth in recent years as people look for convenience in their day to day lives. Although COVID will have impacted this in the short term, as less people commute to the office, it has also made people re-evaluate their health, and I believe there is a huge opportunity for eggs and egg products to provide a healthy and convenient source of nutrition.

Opeyemi: New research continues to showcase the reasons that eggs should be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. I believe there are more opportunities for this to be done on a regional level, which would enable producers to showcase the health benefits of eggs based on local populations and demographics.

What are the top business issues on your mind?

Michael: One of the biggest business issues on my mind at the moment is the implications of the move to cage free production in the UK and the future of enriched colonies. These decisions will have a huge impact on egg production businesses in the UK, and I believe it is important that we are able to have open and honest conversations about the environmental and welfare impact of all systems to enable consumers to have the option to make their own informed choices.

Opeyemi: One of the biggest business issues on my mind is how we maintain year-round sales of eggs to avoid large gluts which impact prices. I believe it is important for us to look at new opportunities to reduce fluctuations, whether that be through promotions, exportation or potential preservation techniques, such as freezing, which could be used to support a more consistent price throughout the year.

What are the key threats for the egg industry?

Michael: Avian disease remains a key threat to our industry, particularly Avian Influenza. As we continue to face pressure in the UK to move away from enriched colony production to free range systems this threat becomes even larger, which is often overlooked. The health of our birds continues to remain the top priority for egg producers around the world, and I believe it is important that considerations such as disease threat are taken in to account when decisions made outside of the industry impact our production systems. 

Opeyemi: Feed Input price instability and unavailability has been a major threat. Low yield of vital grains such as maize and soy beans compared to industrial demand, driving production costs very high which is transferred to egg prices. This has been due to insecurity in the rural farming areas which has also discouraged investment in mechanization and other efficient farming practices that could improve productivity. Farm lands are underutilized during the planting seasons, leading to scarcity. Another threat to the industry is the misguided perception of the role of eggs on our health. Historic claims around cholesterol continue to circulate in some regions, despite more recent scientific evidence showing that eggs do not negatively impact cholesterol levels. I believe as an industry we all have a role to help promote the value of the eggs, and showcasing the high standards eggs are produced to can aide this.