Egg Industry Center looking to fund research


SAN JACINTO, Calif. — Southern California Egg Cooperative Inc. has announced that it is expanding its membership and operations as it prepares to directly market its eggs to Southern California retailers.

It is the cooperative's goal to be the primary source for fresh, locally produced, compliant shell eggs for Southern California consumers and retailers after implementation of new state housing standards and food safety regulations on Jan. 1, 2015.

"We are pleased to be expanding our cooperative as we move into a new era with a new business model," stated John Demler, the cooperative's chairman. "The board of directors has accepted membership of four additional egg farming families that share our goal of supplying fresh, high-quality and safe eggs. This will enhance our ability to service the needs of Southern California's retailers and consumers."

The expanded cooperative will add the production of several million conventional hens plus 1 million hens producing cage free and organic eggs.

Starting in 2015, Southern California Egg Cooperative will no longer sell its eggs through other companies but will instead market directly to Southern California retailers. To prepare for this change, the newly expanded cooperative will be adding significant production capacity while greatly increasing logistical abilities.

"We are in the process of expanding our cold storage facilities with particular emphasis on our San Jacinto location due to its proximity to Southern California's freeway network", stated Gary Foster, senior vice president of operations. "We will have eggs produced, packaged and stored at multiple locations, all close to the marketplace and all able to respond to our customer's needs in a manner unmatched by others."

The expanded cooperative will also increase its portfolio of products to include organic, cage free and nutritionally enhanced eggs. New brands will be introduced in coming months, offering consumers a choice of locally produced eggs. Jim Van Gorkom, senior vice president of sales and marketing, will lead the cooperative's new sales efforts. Van Gorkom stated, "We are very excited about this opportunity to expand our already strong customer relationships. As the leading supplier of California produced eggs, these plans will ensure that we are in an excellent position to continue to meet our customers’ needs."

Southern California Egg Cooperative was originally formed by four of the region's oldest and largest egg farms — Demler Egg Ranch, Pine Hill Egg Ranch, Demler Enterprises and Harmony Egg Ranch. Each egg farm had been independently operated, but all were owned by members of the Demler family. With a solid reputation for excellence built over 60 years, they joined together to form the cooperative, providing them the opportunity to unite and distinguish their products from those produced in other states.

Throughout 2014, all of the cooperative's family farms will be modifying their operations to ensure compliance with California's approaching food safety and housing requirements. Moreover, significant expansion is under way to ensure an adequate supply for the region. New construction at multiple farms will provide housing for 500,000 organic and cage free hens along with an additional 1 million conventional egg hens. This growth will continue in 2015 as the cooperative expands both its specialty and conventional production by another 1 million new hens.

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