It is estimated that in the UK over 12 billion eggs a year are consumed, of which, according to Nielsen (June 2013), 47% are purchased from retail stores, 22% are used in food manufacturing, 29% in the foodservice/catering sector and 2% are home produced.
The market has changed radically over the past 5 years with consumers becoming more discerning about where their eggs come from. The demand for organic eggs is growing strongly, sales of organic eggs in Denmark increased by 43% within the last 3 years. An increase in welfare conscious consumers has resulted in Free Range achieving over 50% market share and continues to grow, Cage eggs share has fallen to under 40.
The European situation is in stark contrast to the USA, where organic egg sales currently account for a ridiculously small share of the overall US egg market. In total, the US produces about 75 billion eggs a year, about 10% of the world supply.
Due to the infamous disinterest of the American entrepreneur for animal welfare the egg systems mostly use confined, high-density, mechanised housing, in which layers are caged in houses of 40,000-100,000 birds. It’s only the local farmer’s markets and some small outlets that come up with organic eggs.
Bloomberg informs us that as of Jan. 1, 2015 all eggs sold in the California, no matter where they come from, must be produced by chickens living in cages with enough space to lie down, stand up, extend their wings and turn around. Farmers nationwide who want to continue selling to the most populous US state have to comply with the new law. They either must build more hen houses, or house fewer birds in the ones they have.
Maybe they ever will reach European standards. For the time being, for a number of reasons, it’s illegal to sell USDA graded eggs anywhere in the European Union (EU).
What has all this to do with packaging? Well, a lot, as the US market is a bulk market with sharp sales prices, it leaves little space for packaging innovation. The fully automatic high-speed egg packaging machines exclude all possibilities of creativity in packaging. We have to look at Europe and some other countries for innovative packaging designs. There are many, so I made two slide-shows, as I want to focus in this article upon one special egg packaging design from a Dutch company (Eggs Posure) in collaboration with a Danish one (Hedegaard Foods). The egg packaging itself is introduced in Sweden by Svenska Lantägg AB.
Eggs Posure founded by Dutch Twinpack BV and Danish food producer, Hedegaard Foods A/S, launched a carton called Eggyplay, which can carry up to eight eggs and afterwards can be turned into building blocks. A little bit like full-grown Lego-blocks. Children must love them because EggyPlay packages are the perfect large-sized building blocks for creating a life-sized castle, impressive tower or real-world playhouse.
The injection-moulded egg packaging is made out of polypropylene and comes in four colours, magenta, yellow, cyan and green. Hedegaard Foods instruct its customers to wash the egg packaging in a dishwater at a minimum temperature of 65°C, before being used as a toy, to reduce risk of bacterial contamination.
The EggyPlay packaging is dishwasher-proof and resistant to repeated exposure to high temperatures, moisture and detergents. They made the decision to use Verstraete IML’s dishwasher-proof IML labels and the labels are produced with dishwasher-proof inks and a special layer of varnish. This offers optimal protection for the colours and the quality of the IML label during repeated washes.
The EggyPlay packaging, which carries a CE mark is 100% recyclable and weighs less than a traditional egg carton and can be stacked for transportation.
It’s a nice example of sustainability, as the EggyPlay’s are not discarded but are given a second lease of life as a toy. Being made from 100% PP makes them fully recyclable after an intensive playground period.
Hedegaard Foods A/S
Hedegaard Foods, based in Hadsund/Denmark, is the market leader in the Nordic Region within fresh eggs, and has a total of six egg packing plants, plus four factories producing cooked and pasteurised egg products. Main markets are Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Estonia, with important export markets in the Faeroes, Germany, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania.
It consists of the following subsidiaries: Muna Foods Oy, Svenska Lantägg AB, Koks Munatootmine OÜ and Eggs Posure A/S. EggyPlay is introduced in Sweden by Svenska Lantägg AB.