By Diane Mastrull
The Philadelphia Inquirer.
While the egg industry in general has had sales as flat as a crepe, Eggland’s Best L.L.C., a producer of higher-nutrition eggs, has seen unit sales increase by double digits each of the last 17 years, an average of 14 percent each year, said Charles T. Lanktree, president and CEO. Retail sales last year were $758 million.
“We think specialty eggs is going to continue to be a bigger and bigger and bigger part of the entire egg category,” Lanktree said.
His company’s goal is doing for the egg industry what Chobani has for yogurt, be a standout brand that attracts more consumers.
“The category has blossomed,” Lanktree said. “We hope we can do that with eggs.”
Compared to generic eggs, Eggland’s Best says its large egg contains 25 percent less saturated fat, 38 percent more lutein, 10 times more vitamin E, four times more vitamin D, three times more vitamin B12, and double the Omega-3. It has 175 milligrams of cholesterol.
Last week, the company announced the per-egg calorie count in all varieties, including organic and cage-free, had dropped to 60 from 70.
Produced on 50 farms in 34 states, EB eggs usually arrive at markets within three days of laying. They come from a network of franchisees who must use specially formulated feed sold by the company.
Herbruck Poultry Ranch Inc., of Saranac, Mich., one of the first EB franchises in 1992, produces about 1.8 million specialty eggs, said CEO Stephen Herbruck.
He credited his late father, Harry, for having the vision and confidence to go beyond generic eggs.
In abundance at Eggland’s Best headquarters are product analyses from university agriculture programs, certifications from specialty food associations, and awards from health groups and publications, all attesting to the freshness, taste and nutritional value of EB eggs.