CHICAGO — For egg producers, 2022 has been a year of challenges and triumphs. Navigating HPAI, protracted supply chain issues and an inflationary environment while ensuring a plentiful supply of safe, affordable eggs for consumers and customers has tested our farmers’ resiliency and resolve — and it’s no surprise that they have risen to the occasion.
Grit, after all, is nothing new to egg farmers.
At the same time, 2022 was in many respects a banner year for eggs. The United Nations named eggs as just one of two “star ingredients” at its first-ever UN Food Systems Summit; Nation’s Restaurant News named eggs — and egg sandwiches — the “restaurant darling of the year,” Bon Appetit magazine proclaimed 2022 “the year of the fancy deviled egg”; and the FDA proposed a new rule under which eggs, at last, qualify as healthy — a momentous victory for sound nutrition science that will drive demand even further.
Make no mistake: eggs are on a roll.
While the world’s love affair with our incredible product has intensified and grown, there’s more work to be done yet. As the egg industry’s national marketing organization, the American Egg Board (AEB) is laser-focused on increasing demand for U.S. eggs and egg products — no easy feat when you’re already in more than 90 percent of refrigerators, nearly ubiquitous on ingredient labels at the shelf, a darling of restaurants and a star in viral TikTok videos.
To complicate matters, the consumer is now an even faster moving target. Post-pandemic, we find ourselves in a new ‘normal’ where consumer needs, preferences and priorities are in flux — and it’s our job to enable our customers to meet those consumers where they are.
More than ever, the food industry is desperate for innovation, and it’s time for eggs to level up. Our customers need solutions — fresh formats and applications, improved functionality, novel usage opportunities. Creating what’s next can be costly, time-intensive, and risky — even for leading food brands. Navigating the complex path all the way to product launch requires major resources, expertise, and insights. We must share that journey with our customers, combine resources and work in concert to assure all parties involved meet their goals.
To that end, in October, AEB formally launched The Eggcelerator Lab — the egg industry’s first center for innovation and a growth engine for eggs and egg products, driving ideation and new opportunities through insights and collaboration. Nearly two years of strategic development went into The Eggcelerator Lab, ensuring the right processes, proprietary methodologies, resources and partnerships are in place. Led by AEB’s VP of Insights & Innovation, Nate Hedtke, we’ve partnered with CuliNEX, a clean-label food innovation company that brings expertise in food science and culinary arts to develop on-trend culinary egg-based concepts for our clients.
And we’re bringing an unparalleled network of industry partners to bear — manufacturers, suppliers, university researchers and subject matter experts — to anticipate, identify and create new opportunities for eggs and egg products that will drive consumer demand, category growth, and prosperity for egg producers.
Response to The Eggcelerator Lab thus far has exceeded even our high expectations. Whether it’s a startup company looking to enter the space, or a well-established brand that is aiming to adapt its offerings to consumers’ changing palates, organizations are reaching out and enlisting our help in meeting those needs.
We’re exploring new iterations and applications of eggs that fulfill needs consumers didn’t even know they had.
The status quo is no strategy. Our success rests on our agility and ingenuity. It’s early yet, but if our progress to date is any indication, 2023 will be a year in which, together with our producers and our customers, we push the boundaries for eggs, unlock new opportunities and position ourselves to put more eggs in front of more people in new ways, driving new growth and securing future prosperity for America’s egg farmers. I encourage you to join us on this journey!
Wishing you, your families and your colleagues and employees a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!
To learn more about the American Egg Board’s Eggcelerator Lab, visit www.incredibleegg.org/eggceleratorlab.
Emily Metz is president and CEO of the American Egg Board headquartered in Chicago, Ill. For more information, visit www.aeb.org.