Goodness Grows In North Carolina
Egg Outline


Association Name Commodity History Regional Information Production
Packaging Shipping Buying Nutritional Information

I. Association Name: North Carolina Egg Association

A. Commodity Represented
Eggs; The NC Egg Association represents the commercial egg industry within the state of North Carolina. This encompasses the integrated producer/processors and includes the pullet growers, egg producers, egg processors and contract producers within the state. The association aides them in marketing their product and representing their interests in critical issues dealing with the environment, state egg laws, and proposed regulations.

B. Types of Commodity
The types of commodities are very simple. The shell egg is the ultimate commodity. The eggs produced are either white or brown. The different shell colors are derived from different strains of chickens which have different origins. The white shell eggs are produced from hens which originated from the Mediterranean in Europe and are known as the Leghorn strain. The brown shell eggs are produced from hens which originated from breeds developed in the Americas known as the New Hampshire or Rhode Island Red strains. The shell color and a slight difference in shell membrane strength are the only differences between the eggs. There are no differences between the eggs nutritionally.

All hens lay eggs, however in North Carolina as in most of the world, the Single Comb White Leghorn is the breed of choice for laying hens. They are small, compact and produce a consistently high quality AA large egg. The number of laying hens varies, but in general our consumption rate requires one laying hen for every person in the state. Average consumption per capita is 240 eggs per year which is approximately the output of a single laying hen.

C. Is there a National Promotion Month for the Commodity? When?
May

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II. Commodity History

A. North Carolina Background
1. Is the animal originally from NC? Where in NC? Was it brought here from another area/country originally? Where?
It is not originally from North Carolina.

2. When was it brought to NC?
The chicken was brought here with the first settlers in the state. Initially the hens were allowed to forage for themselves around the farmstead and were provided a small building in which to lay their eggs and shelter them from adverse weather. The production was highly seasonable with the greatest production coming in mid-spring to early summer. Production would then taper off the remainder of the year and ceased during the winter months. The excess eggs produced on the farm in the early years were sold or traded at the general store for cash or other provisions.

3. How was it brought to NC and by whom?
Once it was in North Carolina, the egg industry gradually developed into small on farm enterprises which encompassed a few hundred birds. The care and egg collection was typically left in the care of the farm wife and she utilized the egg money for luxuries in the household. In order to provide eggs throughout the year, storage techniques were developed to extend the freshness of the eggs. The eggs were packed in Hogs Head Barrels (55 gallon wooden barrels) in oat hulls. The barrels were then placed in the ice houses or fruit cellars. This would extend the supply of eggs into the early winter months.

With the development of refrigeration cold storage facilities were constructed in the early 1900s which could hold eggs at 30 F. This would provide a supply of eggs throughout the year, however, the eggs were not of the best quality at the end of the storage period. Therefore in 1928 the USDA developed the first egg inspection regulations to help improve the quality of cold storage eggs.

With the development of modern husbandry practices in the 1920s-1940s utilizing confinement techniques and nest boxes the egg production industry began. The practices of which included the development of nutritious diets and disease control techniques.

4. Was it brought to a specific region? Is this the same region it is now mainly produced?
Our egg producers are located all over the state of NC but are mainly concentrated in the East.

B. Uses
1. How is it used?
Eggs are used in cooking, cosmetics, vaccines, games, and decoration.

2. Has today's use changed from its original use/purpose?
Eggs have always been used as food, but today the choices are more numerous. The biggest change is in the foodservice industry. Eggs are being processed further than in the past where eggs where only shipped fresh to restaurants, etc. Today, chefs can buy eggs already cooked, hard boiled, diced, sliced, etc.

3. If yes, how was it originally used and why was there a shift in use?
With the increased use of the processed eggs, some choices and benefits arise for the end user. Smaller storage space is required for the eggs. Preparation time is reduced and in some cases there is no cooking required. There are also longer storage periods and pastuerizations available.

C. Industry Changes
1. How has technology changed the industry? What are some of these improvements/changes?
The main improvement in the egg industry due to technology is that the egg supply is constant throughout the year.

2. How has the uses for the product changed over the years?
Eggs are now used throughout the day instead of just for breakfast.

3. Is consumption/use of the product increased/decreased? Why?
The use of eggs has decreased because there is a large variety of foods to choose from today than in the past. Another reason is that people are not cooking as much and buying more ready-made meals. The health concerns of today also has people on a stricter diet.

D. Future Outlook
1. How is the industry changing currently?
The processing of eggs is the main change in the industry. Processing is more efficient. Good husbandry practices are making lower cholesterol eggs and more uniform eggs.

2. Are there any future projects that would change how the industry is maintained?
N/A

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III. Regional Information

A. Where in the state is the commodity?
1. If more than one location, where is it the most abundant?
The Piedmont has most of the production, but some production is in the Mountains and at the Coast.

2. The least abundant?
Egg production is throughout the country. The most abundant is the mid-west and the least abundant is the north of the United States.

3. Why the difference in production from area to area?
The difference is the feed supply and its cost. The weather is also another factor.

B. Weather Conditions
1. If the weather is inclement, where do animals go?
Egg layers are housed in climate controlled houses for optimum safety, nutrition and quality production.

2. In emergency weather conditions (frosts, tornados, hurricanes) where do animals go?
Since the layers are already housed, the fear of storms, etc. is decreased.

3. In emergency weather conditions what precautions are taken? Are precautions usually preventative (advance) or reactive (as it occurs)
N/A

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IV. Production

A. Housing
1. Is the animal kept indoors or outdoors?
The chickens are kept indoors and housed in cages or may be free running. This allows for better nutrition and disease control within the flock.

2. Are they confined or let loose? Why?
Disease control is more efficient if housed in cages.

3. How are they housed?
Most layers are housed in cages. Some producers also have free running birds in houses.

B. Food
1. What are they fed? How often or how much food do they need?
Most chickens are fed diets consisting primarily of corn and soybean meal which are balanced for minerals and vitamins.

2. How does their diet affect production?
Birds which don't receive adequate nutrition produce eggs at very low rates or not at all.

C. Production Materials
1. Is there any special equipment used during the whole production process? What are they?
Cages, feeders, ventilators, egg graders, candling machines, washers and packing machines are used.

2. Are vaccinations used during production? What are the most common types? What are they for? Are they harmful to the animal or the end user (during consumption, etc.)?
Vaccinations are given to the chickens to prevent various diseases. These vaccinations help the chickens to stay in good health while not harming the end user of the product.

D. Grading
1. Is there an inspection that the product must go through before being packaged/sold?
Yes

2. Is this county, state, national, etc.?
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Grading and Regulatory Division, grades the product on the USDA guidelines.

3. What agency is responsible for the grading/testing and setting the standards?
State/Federal

4. How is the grading done? Is it for each individual piece, or per field, per farm, etc.?
The grading is done on an egg grading/working machine. Each egg has to be individually inspected and weighed. In the grading process, egg shells are inspected for soundness, shape, texture and strength. The interior is generally inspected by "candling", a process by which light shining through the egg enables the grader to see the quality--height and roundness of the yolk, and thickness of the white or albumen.

5. Give a basic breakdown of the scale used and what it means.
AA is the highest quality egg, free of defects and albumen thick with an aircell of 1/8" or less
A is a high quality egg, free of defects and albumen thick with an aircell 1/8" to 3/16"
B is a low quality egg, free of defects, albumen thin and a yolk that moves freely with the aircell being 3/16" and greater
Graders check the shell strength to see if it is damaged and for any loss of egg contents due to leaking. They also check to see if it has blood and meat spots.

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V. Packaging

A. Is the product usually sold fresh, frozen, dried, etc.?
Shelled eggs are sold fresh; any eggs that are further processed are sold either fresh, frozen, dried or hard-cooked.

B. If product is sold in a variety of ways what is the most common in NC?
Fresh shelled eggs are most commonly sold in NC.

C. Is the product packaged? (bags, boxes, bottles, etc)
Eggs are usually sold in cartons or flats in 6, 12, 18 or 24.

D. Why is it done this way? Is it economical, prevents bruising, industry standard or for shipping purposes, etc.?
It is done this way because it is the way customers are used to buying eggs. Costumers demand it is done this way because it's what they know.

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VI. Shipping

A. Distribution
1. What is the most common method of distribution in your industry?
Grocery Stores

2. Is the product sold mainly to retail, food service, wholesale, specialty outlets or a variety of outlets? What is the most common?
Eggs are sold almost everywhere. Retail outlets such as grocery stores are the most common.

3. Does the product go to one place, then another before ending up on a grocery store shelf or restaurant? If yes, where does it go?
Normally the eggs go from the producer to the wholesaler then to a retailer.

4. Is the commodity exported? Domestically, internationally?
Eggs are shipped domestically to SC, VA, TN, GA, PA and NY and internationally to Mexico and Canada.

5. What is the product used for? Are there different uses?
Eggs are used for cooking, cosmetics and vaccines.

B. Transporting
1. How is the commodity normally transported (from farm to retail outlet)?
Refrigerated trucks

2. Does the transportation vehicle require special features (refrigeration, etc.)?
Refrigeration

3. Have methods of transportation changed over the years? (Before automobiles, etc. how was it transported?)
It used to be transported by horse and buggy or by hand in baskets.

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VII. Buying

A. When purchasing/inspecting the commodity (at the store) how do you know it is fresh?
Check the expiration date or the date of packing on the side of the carton.

B. Is there a trick to buying and finding fresh product? (Smell, color etc.)
Check carton date--eggs stay high quality for three to four weeks after pack date. Hard-cooked eggs may be kept in the refrigerator up to one week.

C. How should I store the product?
Eggs should be stored in their cartons in the refrigerator. Place the eggs on an inside shelf. Repeated opening and closing the door can cause temperature fluctuations, while slamming the door can cause breakage. The carton protects the eggs from picking up odors and flavors from other foods and prevents moisture loss.

D. Labels
1. Is your product required to carry a label?
All egg cartons/packaging must carry a label. It must carry the grade of the egg and the word eggs.

2. Is there an industry standard for the label, or is it individualized for each company/producer/grower?
There is an industry standard label that all producers use. This is given by the NCD&CS Grading and Regulatory Division.
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VIII. Nutritional Information

A. Food Pyramid
1. What group of the food pyramid does the commodity fall into?
Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans and nuts
2. Is there a recommended daily allowance of this? What is it?
Two to three servings

B. What nutrients are found in the commodity?
An egg contains the highest quality protein of any food except a mother's milk, 12 minerals and all the essential vitamins except Vitamin C. Eggs contain riboflavin which helps in energy metabolism. Egg yolks are one of the few foods that contain Vitamin D. Vitamin D aids in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin B-12 helps in the formation of red blood cells and plays an important role in the nervous system. Folic acid is a very important vitamin as it controls functions for cell division. A deficiency of folic acid in pregnant women may lead to birth defects or the loss of the baby. As you can see, these vitamins along with the egg's other 69 different nutrients play an important role in the maintenance and growth of our bodies. Eggs are definitely an economical and nutritious food for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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