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Egg Marketing in National Supermarkets: Products, Packaging, and Prices – Part 3 - Poultry [Skip to Content]
Illinois Livestock Trail by UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION


Poultry
Illinois Livestock Trail
FULL TEXT PAPER
Egg Marketing in National Supermarkets: Products, Packaging, and Prices – Part 3
by K. W. Koelkebeck, D. D. Bell, J. B. Carey, K. E. Anderson, and M. J. Darre


ABSTRACT

As part of a national retail egg quality study, the variety of shell eggs and egg products offered for sale, type of packaging, and price relationships were compared in five major metropolitan regions. A total of 81 stores in 28 cities were sampled in California (CA), Illinois (IL), North Carolina (NC), Texas (TX), and New England (NE). Data were recorded for the variety of brands, sizes, white or brown shell eggs, specialty eggs, liquid or frozen eggs, carton sizes, package labeling and coding, and price relationships of shell eggs, liquid, and frozen egg products displayed for sale.

The total variety of shell eggs displayed per store were the greatest for CA and NE stores. Stores in CA and TX offered more (P < 0.05) variety of white shell eggs than in the other states, while stores in NE displayed the most variety (P < 0.05) of brown shell eggs. The average number of liquid and frozen egg products were highest (P < 0.05) for NC stores. Packaging type, USDA labeling, and carton coding differed somewhat among states. The price per one dozen cartons of all white shell egg sizes were highest (P < 0.05) in CA stores, and the average liquid plus frozen egg product prices were higher in CA and NE stores compared to the other states. However, the ratio of liquid and frozen product prices to all large shell egg prices were among the lowest for CA and NC stores. These data indicate that product selection, packaging, and consumer prices for shell eggs and egg products varied considerably across five separate regions of the country.

(Key words: egg marketing, shell egg varieties, egg product varieties, egg packaging, consumer egg prices)

INTRODUCTION

The egg industry in the U.S. prides itself in producing the highest quality eggs for human consumption. Most shell eggs sold in large supermarkets throughout the U.S. are produced from laying hens maintained in large production complexes. It is anticipated that the quality of eggs delivered to these supermarkets is very high. It was of interest, therefore, to determine if, in fact, eggs sold to the consumer in five major areas of the country were of high quality.

Sampling studies demonstrate that a wide range of interior and exterior egg quality will occur for eggs sampled from different regions of the country. Bell et al. (2000) showed that the age of white eggs sold in the different states ranged from 10.6 to 16.1 d. Albumen quality of white shell eggs ranged from 62.8 to 71.5 Haugh units, and the number of cracked white shell eggs ranged from 4.0 to 7.4%.

As part of the same retail egg quality study, Darre et al. (1997) reported that the age of brown eggs ranged from 1 to 45 d old with an average age of 15 d. Albumen quality ranged from 42 to 76 Haugh Units with a mean of 62. The number of cracks and leakers averaged 7.4 and 0.9%, respectively. The results of the egg quality study also revealed that the average age of specialty eggs (defined as eggs promoted as having one or more features beyond conventional white or brown eggs including nutritionally altered, organic, fertile eggs from welfare managed hens, or hens fed all vegetable diets) was 16.5 d (Patterson et al., 2000). That study also showed that specialty eggs averaged 63.8 Haugh units. The percentage of cracked specialty eggs was 5.4%, while the percentage of leakers was 1.0%.

Since this first sampling study demonstrated a wide variation in egg quality, it was of further interest to revisit the stores initially sampled and examine the variety of egg products offered to the consumer, packaging materials, and the price relationships which exist between products and shell eggs. Therefore, the Extension Specialists in the states and regions previously mentioned went back to the stores in the summer sampling period and recorded the variety of egg shell products displayed, liquid and frozen egg products, type of packaging used, and price relationships. Therefore, the objective of the present study was to determine the variety of egg products offered for sale in the five metropolitan regions, the type of packaging used in the supermarkets, space allowances for different products, and the price relationships in these regions.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

For this study, Poultry Extension Specialists from five states with the help of state department of agriculture personnel in California (CA), Illinois (IL), North Carolina (NC), Texas (TX), and New England (NE) states including Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts sampled eggs in 28 cities and 81 stores to determine the quality, packaging, and price relationships of eggs displayed for sale in those areas. Data were recorded for shell egg brands, sizes, white or brown shell, specialty eggs, liquid or frozen, carton sizes, and the price relationships of shell eggs, liquid, and frozen egg products. Of the 81 stores sampled, the number of stores sampled in CA, IL, NC, TX and NE were 25, 23, 12, 12, and 9, respectively. The number of cities sampled in CA, IL, NC, TX and NE were 8, 8, 3, 3, and 6, respectively. In addition, the number of supermarket chains samples in CA, IL, NC, TX and NE were 16, 16, 7, 10, and 9, respectively. The large number of supermarket chains samples in each geographical region was done in order to broaden the scope of sampling product offerings and prices.

For each store visited, a record was made for each type of shell eggs and liquid or frozen egg products displayed which frequently included visiting two or more locations within the store. Specifically, the following data were recorded for shell eggs displayed by each store visited:

  1. the number of shell egg products displayed by egg sizes;
  2. the assortment of white, brown, or specialty eggs displayed;
  3. the number of eggs contained per unit (6, 8, 12, 18, 20, 30, 36, or 60 eggs);
  4. the type of packaging used for shell eggs (pulp or foam);
  5. the USDA seal stamped on the carton;
  6. pack-by-date and sell-by-date;
  7. the presence of a refrigeration statement;
  8. display frontage area;
  9. percent of display allotted for white, brown, and specialty eggs; and
  10. the price per one dozen cartons for white eggs (jumbo, x-large, large, and medium sizes), large brown eggs, and large specialty eggs.

In addition, the following data were recorded for liquid and frozen egg products offered for sale:

  1. the variety of liquid and frozen egg products displayed;
  2. display frontage area for liquid and frozen egg products; and
  3. the price of liquid and frozen egg products based on a one dozen carton equivalent basis.

To obtain the price of liquid and frozen eggs, the actual price per unit sold was multiplied by the number of eggs representing that unit. Thus, if a liquid egg product contained an equivalent of three whole eggs, then the price of that unit was multiplied by four to come up with a price that was equivalent to a one-dozen carton of eggs.

The numbers, percentage, square area, and prices shown in Tables 1 to 5 are based on a per store average within each state. The data presented for the liquid and frozen product price per dozen equivalent (Table 5) was calculated on prices for liquid and frozen egg products added together. The data shown in Table 5 for the liquid-frozen/shell egg price ratio is based on the average shell egg price per dozen for all large eggs displayed in each store (data not shown).

Statistical Analysis

All data were analyzed by the General Linear Models procedure using ANOVA of SAS® software (SAS Institute, 1994). Significant differences among state means were assessed using Fisher's least significant difference test (Steel and Torrie, 1980).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Number of Shell, Liquid, and Frozen Egg Products

Table 1 represents the average number of shell egg products displayed in each state grouped by egg size, egg shell type, and total shell egg products. The results showed that eggs of the large size were displayed the most in all stores. There appears to be regional preferences for the type of shell eggs displayed at retail stores. California and TX stores offered for sale more (P < 0.05) white shelled egg products compared to stores in IL, NC, and NE. As might be expected, NE stores marketed a greater number of (P < 0.05) brown egg products than stores in any other state. Stores in CA and NE displayed more (P < 0.05) specialty type eggs than in IL and TX. Stores in CA, TX, and NE displayed the greatest number of shell egg products with CA and NE stores marketing significantly more variety of shell eggs than stores in NC. These results indicate that the category of shell eggs most offered for sale across the country are large, white shelled eggs. In addition, marketing of brown eggs seems to be more in the East, while specialty eggs are marketed more on both the East and West Coast compared to the Midwest area.

The data shown in Table 2 depicts the average number of liquid and frozen egg products and total shell egg plus liquid and frozen egg products marketed in each state. Stores in TX and NE marketed the greatest number of (P < 0.05) liquid egg products compared to the other states, whereas NC stores marketed the most (P < 0.05) frozen egg products. Supermarkets in NC provided consumers the widest array (P < 0.05) of liquid and frozen egg products combined compared to the other states. When considering both shell eggs and liquid and frozen egg products, NC and CA marketed more (P < 0.05) varieties than stores in IL. These data indicate that consumers in IL may have a more limited availability of shell egg and egg product varieties to choose from, whereas CA and NC consumers have the greatest assortment of choices.

Number of Shell Egg Packs, Packaging Type, and Labeling

The marketing of shell eggs in cartons and other egg packs indicates that different areas of the country offer shell eggs in varying numbers per carton or pack configuration (Table 3). Generally, the smallest group of eggs sold were 6-egg cartons and the largest egg pack contained 60 eggs. The most common large egg pack size offered for sale in CA were 60-egg packs (10 out of 25 stores or 40% of the stores). The largest egg packs offered for sale in other states were 18-, 30-, 30-, and 18-egg packs for IL, NC, TX, and NE stores, respectively. Most stores in the states and regions sampled did display 6- and 8-egg packs. Table 3 also identifies the types of cartons used for one dozen large white shell eggs nationwide and the type of information which is printed on them. Stores in CA, IL, NC, and NE marketed the greatest (P < 0.05) percentage of large white shelled eggs in pulp cartons than stores in TX. However, no significant state differences were noted for the number of cartons having the USDA label printed on them. All states surveyed had a high percentage of shell eggs marketed with a sell-by-date stamped on the carton, while no differences (P > 0.05) were noted between states. A greater (P < 0.05) percentage of shell egg cartons had a pack date on them in IL stores compared to CA stores. All shell eggs marketed in NC had a refrigeration statement printed on the carton. A significantly lower percentage (70.7%) of the shell eggs offered for sale in CA stores had a refrigeration statement on the carton as compared to all other states. These data suggest that the majority of shell eggs marketed across the country have a sell-by-date stamped on the carton; however, shell eggs are marketed in a wide variety of pack sizes, type of cartons, and have varying degrees of information stamped on the carton.

Egg Products Space

In Table 4, the store area allotted for shell eggs and egg products is depicted. Texas stores had the largest (P < 0.05) display area for both shell eggs and egg products compared to the other states. The lack of egg product space allocated by NC and NE stores was due to missing data, not because egg products were not sold by stores in those states. In all states surveyed, the percent of display space occupied by shell eggs was the most spacious for white shelled eggs. The greatest percentage of space allotted for white shelled eggs was found in CA, IL, and TX stores while stores in NC and NE provided the least space for white shelled eggs. The percentage of display space allotted for brown shelled eggs was greatest in NE stores than in any other state's stores. North Carolina stores allotted more (P < 0.05) space for specialty eggs as compared to stores in CA, IL, and TX.

In addition to the area allotted for shell eggs and liquid and frozen egg products, the locations of these displays in the stores were different for all three types of egg products marketed. For instance, most stores in CA and IL displayed shell eggs, liquid and frozen egg products in three separate locations. Liquid and frozen egg products were located in the refrigerated and frozen food cabinets/cases, while in some instances shell eggs were located in refrigerated food cases and in separate egg cabinets. Thus, consumers would have to visit several areas of a store to buy the particular shell eggs or egg products they were interested in.

Shell, Liquid, and Frozen Egg Products Prices

The average price per one dozen carton of all white shelled, brown shelled, and specialty eggs marketed is presented in Table 5. For all white egg sizes, the price per dozen was highest (P < 0.05) for stores in CA compared to the other states. The most inexpensive white shelled eggs marketed in all sizes were from stores in IL and TX. Cartons of large brown eggs were also higher (P < 0.05) in CA stores than in IL and TX stores while, specialty eggs were significantly (P < 0.05) less money in IL compared to CA. These data indicate that in general, eggs cost more in CA than in other states with egg prices being intermediate in NE and NC and least inexpensive in IL and TX. Higher egg prices in CA primarily reflect this regions deficit feedstuff status and distance from primary feedstuff production areas.

The liquid and frozen egg product prices corrected to a one dozen shell egg equivalent price illustrated that CA and NE stores had higher (P < 0.05) prices than IL, NC, and TX stores. When taking into account all large shell egg prices and liquid and frozen egg product prices, the relative cost of product to shell prices revealed that even though CA had the highest shell egg and product prices the product to shell ratio was among the lowest of any state. The highest product to shell price ratio was for stores in TX and IL.

In summary, it was found that a greater selection of shell eggs and egg products were available from stores in CA and NC, intermediate in TX and NE, and the least selection was available in IL. Shell egg packaging and labeling varied considerably among the states sampled. The price of shell eggs was generally higher in CA with the least inexpensive shell eggs marketed in IL and TX. Liquid and frozen egg product prices were higher in CA and NE compared to the other states. In conclusion, this study revealed that a wide variety of shell eggs and egg products were marketed in five separate regions of the country. In addition, prices for shell eggs and egg products also varied within supermarkets from the states that were sampled.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

The authors gratefully acknowledge the technical assistance of Jerry Robertson, Illinois Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Weights and Measures, for assisting in data collection for Illinois; Michele Douglas for data analysis; and other Department of Agriculture personnel from CA, NC, TX, Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts for collecting data.

REFERENCES

Bell, D. D., P. H. Patterson, K. W. Koelkebeck, K. E. Anderson, M. J. Darre, and J. B. Carey, 2000. Egg marketing in national supermarkets: Egg quality - Part 1. Poultry Sci. 79:submitted.

Darre, M. J., J. B. Carey, K.W. Koelkebeck, P. H. Patterson, D. D. Bell, and K. E. Anderson, 1997. National retail egg quality studies, Part 2: Brown egg results. Poultry Sci. 76(Suppl. 1):56 (Abstr.)

Patterson, P. H., K.W. Koelkebeck, D. D. Bell, M. J. Darre, J. B. Carey, and K. E. Anderson, 2000. Egg marketing in national supermarkets: Specialty eggs - Part 2. Poultry Sci. 79:submitted.

SAS Institute, 1994. SAS® User's Guide: Statistical. Version 6.08. SAS Institute, Inc., Cary, NC.

Steel, R. G. D., and J. H. Torrie, 1980. Principles and Procedures of Statistics: A Biometrical Approach. 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill Book Co, New York, NY.

TABLE 1. Average number of shell egg products marketed per store for all egg sizes, white, brown, specialty, and total shell eggs1

  Shell egg products marketed by size2   Shell egg products marketed by type3  
State/Region Jumbo X-Large Large Medium Small White Brown Specialty Total shell egg products4
  -- (no. of products) --
CA 0.9c 2.0a 5.6a 1.0a 0.0b   7.1a 0.9b 1.7a 9.7a
IL 0.9c 1.3bc 4.4b 1.0a 0.0b 5.9b 0.8b 0.7c 7.4bc
NC 0.7c 0.9c 5.0ab 0.8a 0.0b 5.3bc 0.9b 1.3abc 7.4c
TX 1.1b 1.5b 4.9ab 1.3a 0.2a 7.3a 1.1b 0.6c 8.9abc
NE 1.7a 1.1c 5.4a 0.8a 0.1ab 4.0c 3.4a 1.7ab 9.1ab
a-cMeans within a column with no common superscript differ significantly (P < 0.05).
1N = 25, 23, 12, 12, and 9 for stores in CA, IL, NC, TX, and NE, respectively.
2Each mean includes: 1) white, brown, or specialty eggs; 2) all brands; 3) all pack or carton sizes; and 4) pulp or foam cartons.
3Each mean includes: 1) all egg sizes; 2) all brands; 3) all pack or carton sizes; and 4) pulp or foam cartons.
4Each mean includes: 1) all egg sizes; 2) white, brown, or specialty eggs; 3) all brands; 4) all pack or carton sizes; and 5) pulp or foam cartons.

TABLE 2. Average number of liquid and frozen egg products and total shell and liquid frozen egg products marketed per store1

  Liquid and frozen egg products marketed2    
State/Region Liquid Frozen Total liquid-frozen products marketed2 Total shell and liquid- frozen products marketed3
-- (no. of products) --
CA 3.2b 2.2b 5.4b 15.1a
IL 3.1b 1.2c 4.3b 11.8b
NC 2.8b 4.5a 7.3a 14.7a
TX 4.5a 0.3cd 4.8b 13.7ab
NE 3.6a 0.0d 3.6b 12.7ab
a-dMeans within a column with no common superscript differ significantly (P < 0.05).
1N = 25, 23, 12, 12, and 9 for stores in CA, IL, NC, TX, and NE, respectively.
2Each mean includes: 1) all brands; and 2) egg equivalents sold per unit.
3Each mean includes: 1) all brands of shell, liquid, and frozen egg products; 2) all shell packs, carton sizes, and liquid or frozen egg equivalents sold per unit; 3) all shell egg sizes; 4) white, brown, or specialty shell eggs; 5) pulp or foam shell egg cartons.






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