It’s no secret that getting enough protein has been a top concern of the health-minded, but many consumers are also working to cut down on their meat consumption as a dietary choice. This conundrum paves a clear path to the top for protein-rich eggs.
As such, retailers and manufacturers are working to enhance the fresh egg case with premium offerings that present the staple in new formats, such as peeled, microwavable and even plant-based.
Herewith is a look at how eggs are slicing and dicing into new eating and usage occasions ...
“Free-range,” “humanely raised” and “pasture-raised” are phrases that have been increasingly driving the fresh egg category; “cage-free” and “omega 3” claims will no longer cut it for the growing number of consumers concerned with animal welfare.
Matthew Sherman, CMO of Handsome Brook Farm, Franklin, N.Y., says that while conventional egg pricing has rebounded from the lows of last year, the category is still losing volume to humanely raised eggs. There will likely always be a market for cheap eggs, he says, but “the middle is going to continue to struggle as consumers either prioritize price or quality.”
Additionally, as information on eggs become more widely available and viral international cooking videos display dark orange yolks, consumers are starting to look for this quality in American eggs as they realize chickens fed with grain and corn tend to yield lighter colors.
While humanely raised eggs are currently in the commodity realm, retailers continue to flock to the cage-free segment, including Kroger, Walmart, Albertsons and Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, which are all working toward exclusively cage-free offerings.
The demand for quick, protein-rich breakfasts is a key opportunity in the freezer aisle, and manufacturers are getting more creative with egg-based options.
Andrew Reichbut, EVP of Avenel, N.J.-based Garden Lites, which includes veggie frittatas among its product offerings, says that while consumers are moving toward-plant-based proteins, they don’t tend to consider eggs a “meat protein”; therefore, demand remains high. “With eggs not being bucketed into this group, they are the perfect solution for the freezer section,” he says.
Additionally, eggs are going beyond breakfast, according to WGB sister research firm Technomic, and 24% of consumers are likely to eat eggs for either lunch or dinner, although breakfast is still the most popular occasion at 82%, potentially giving value-add frozen egg items such as bowls and burritos a boost.
Eggs are also a favorite of those on the paleo diet. Marketing frozen eggs to this diet-restricted, on-the-go category of consumer by marking the items with a special paleo call-out could draw them to a quick, healthy frozen meal solutions that fits into their lifestyle.
Pourable, already peeled eggs—as well as snack packs that include the popular protein—have been a welcome addition to grocery shelves as the demand for convenience grows stronger. Additionally, retailers that offer these products have been moving them into the organic, cage-free and free-range space.
The Kroger Co., for example, has championed this category in its own Simple Truth Organic brand with offerings such as free-range peeled and ready-to-eat hardboiled eggs, free-range 100% egg whites and cage-free whole liquid eggs.
Last Spring, Albertsons expanded its commitment to offer only cage-free eggs by 2025 to include liquid eggs. The retailer also carries innovative convenience egg products such as Sauder’s Eggs’ pickled hardboiled eggs in flavors such as Buffalo and red beet.
Quick, protein-packed snack packs that include ready-to-eat eggs have also been popping up more often as manufacturers create products aimed at the refrigerated section. These serve up a hardboiled egg alongside other healthy items such as cheese, chocolate and nuts.
While eggs are often considered an exception to meat-based products, veganism is also on the rise. Similar to how items such as plant-based Impossible Meat have been exploding across both the grocery and restaurant channels, egglike products are making their way into the limelight with offerings such as Just Egg, which is made with mung beans. It was chosen by WGB’s Meg Major as her November 2018 Editors’ Elites top new product, declaring it “looks and scrambles eggs-actly like its conventional counterpart.”
Just Egg is currently entering the retail market, where it will meet competitors such as VeganEgg, made with ingredients such as algal flour and soymilk powder, and the Neat Egg, derived from garbanzo beans and chia seeds.
For vegans less enthusiastic about imitation eggs, tofu scrambles have become a popular substitute, which hints at an opportunity for cross-merchandising among other breakfast offerings and is even popping up in the frozen aisle.