SNACKS-PECTATIONS: Consumers want more than guilty pleasure

A bit sneaky, aren’t they? Snacks crept in from the dark shadows of guilty pleasure to grab a dominant and even bold role in America’s dining habits. Far from the furtive midnight refrigerator raids of yore, snacking’s ubiquitous presence is actually shifting the classic structure of three meals per day. According to Technomic’s 2018 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report,1 many consumers are replacing at least one daily meal with snacks, while some might replace two.

Snacking is now defined by Innova as a “definitive occasion,” sparking a 10 percent annual growth in global food and beverage launches with a snacking claim in the past five years. Varying reports state that between 83 to 94 percent of consumers snack daily, fueling impressive category growth. Savory snacks alone are expected to reach global sales figures of $175.85 billion by 2021 for a CAGR of five percent

With both savory snacking on the rise and health on the minds of consumers, the perfect ingredient to fit this scenario just might be the hard-boiled egg. One website actually calls the hard-boiled egg the “perfect snack” for its satiating qualities, ease of preparation and myriad of ways to dress it up with herbs, spices, dips and companion ingredients.2

Snack Hackers

Among generational demographic groups,Millennials and Gen Z most fervently embrace snacking. One poll shows Millennials eat at least six snacks per week on the go, while commuting or running errands. Two in five Millennials reach for a snack to help fuel activity through the day compared to one in five older adults who snack for that reason as opposed to using a snack for example, to curb a craving.3

The type of snack a Millennial might choose to help fuel their body would fit within the macro trend for healthier or more nutritious foods and snacks. According to Innova data, 17 percent of U.S. consumers polled indicated “health” as an important factor when selecting a snack food compared with 19 percent naming “indulgence.”

According to SnackNation, a direct consumer snacking subscription service, 47 percent of all consumers say they can’t make it through the day without a snack. As the consumers get younger, this number rises. Some Gen Z and Millennial consumers eat a snack up to six times a day; combining snacks to make mini-meals, “just like you’d build a plate with protein, fruits, veggies and grains,” according to one company executive.

Compared to Millennials, Gen Z is even more inclined to prefer convenient foods that are easy to prepare or eat on the go—cue microwave dinners, frozen breakfast sandwiches, meal kits and snacks. According to a new Packaged Facts report, better amp up the flavor. Gen Z prefers novel, authentic food experiences.4

Not surprisingly, Innova has identified a 35 percent growth in new food and beverage launches with a “discovery” claim on the label (i.e., discover, explore, uncover, unveil and unravel) and a 17 percent CAGR of new food and beverage launches with ethnic flavors.

Flavor Breakthrough

Therefore, for the adventurous consumer (i.e., Millennials and Gen Z) capture the taste buds, and you’ll capture your audience. Flavor reigns supreme when consumers make snack selections. The IRI Snacking Survey 2018 says 91 percent of consumers have flavor preferences and for 84 percent of them this included exotic flavors.

Flavor isn’t the only important component of a snack, however. Consumers of all ages are driving the sales of snacks that carry a protein claim. Egg protein plays a role in the nutritional health of consumers across the lifespan. Protein is one of the most important nutrients for children, promoting growth of strong muscles and healthy immune systems. Mature consumers need dietary protein intake to maintain muscle strength, bone health and blood sugar control. In fact, a higher intake of animal-protein foods alone, and especially in combination with a physically active lifestyle, was associated with preservation of muscle mass and functional performance in older adults.

Small Bites are Huge

In terms of format among all consumers, 37 percent say that any type of food can fit within the snack model depending on portion size—small portions mean snackability. In these small portions, taste, positive health benefits, convenience and portability, and real ingredients make a difference with consumers, according to Nielsen data. That means small bites are big business. Manufacturers, retailers and restaurants alike are offering single-serve, grab-and-go products to meet consumer needs.

According to one source, refrigerated snacks, a snack subcategory, witnessed 20 percent year-over-year growth due to protein combination snack packs that included these types of savory options.5

This trend is being driven jointly by Millennials, Boomers and all demographic groups across the spectrum. The number of new product introductions is matched only by the frequency of fresh protein snack pack purchases.

Hobbits Were Right

Another important factor for food manufacturers in terms of marketing is figuring out the daypart when the most snacking occurs. Snacking can happen anytime, anywhere, however in terms of simple cravings, Americans are most likely to crave a lift in the afternoon. Evenings, after dinner, are the next highest likelihood for a person to snack.

Although we can’t ignore the morning segment either. According to InstantIntel6 we’re all turning into hobbits. Remember the long journey in Lord of the Rings when a hobbit asks when they’ll stop for second breakfast? We laughed at that part of the film, but second breakfast, or an eating occasion that falls between breakfast and lunch, is on the rise. Almost a third, or 32 percent of consumers are enjoying a “second breakfast” or breakfast food as a midmorning snack, either a yogurt parfait or muffin or something more filling such as a smoothie bowl or frittata.

Don’t forget that the hobbits were on a journey. Americans are constantly on the go; therefore, portability is a strong factor in the favor of any snack introduction. Single-serve packs that are protein-centric and minimally processed fare well. In addition, the free-from movement including free-from dairy, soy or gluten still shows strong consumer involvement. In addition, consumers seem to prefer snacks that are:

  • Nutrient dense
  • Alternative slow carbs
  • Lower sugar content/energy foods
  • Rapid hand-to-mouth snacks

The Staying Power of Clean

Another macro trend firmly entrenched in our food culture is the demand for clean, clear and transparent labels and communications. In the U.S., seven in 10 consumers want to know and understand the ingredient list. Further, one in two reads the ingredient label often. And this increased interest in a cleaner label and fresh ingredients is also spurring consumers to adopt flexitarian or vegetarian lifestyles.

These same rules apply to snacks as well. According to an IRI 2018 Snacking Survey7:

  • 75 percent want snacks that are guaranteed fresh
  • 58 percent want snacks that contain vitamins and minerals
  • 57 percent want all-natural snacks or made with natural ingredients
  • and...

Plant-Forward Partners

As consumers embrace healthier, more sustainable lifestyles and eating patterns, watch for a corresponding increase in the number of new meal and snack product offerings that embrace flexitarian or plant-forward dining. A plant-forward based model emphasizes and celebrates but is “not limited to plant-based foods” with a mindful selection of an animal-based protein to accent or complement those choices.

This mindful choice of the right type of protein to accent the plant-based component is very important. The right protein will not only contribute its own assortment of nutrients, but in addition, will actually enhance the body’s use of the vitamins contained in the vegetable portion of the meal or snack.

Non-traditional Introductions

In addition to e-commerce driving double digit growth across several categories, new, non-traditional outlets account for a growing percentage of snack sales. Consumers find them in gyms, coffee shops, airports, refrigerated snacking cabinets, vending machines and offices. One office perk that can help retain talent turns out to be free food.

One business consulting firm posted survey results that indicated

The survey firm indicated, “they’re looking for new novel products that are going to appeal to Millennials.” Sterling-Rice Group indicated that brands are actually being built through this nontraditional office channel. That’s just where it begins. Sixty-eight percent of employees in that same survey said after being introduced to a new snack at the office, they went on to purchase these snacks and beverages on their own.

This could be one strategy to build brand loyalty as purchasing shifts online, yet snack purchases are often driven by impulse sales. One speaker at Snaxpo18 listed this impulse shopping as “critical” to snack foods. According to Euromonitor only 30 percent of people ages 20 to 30 are making weekly trips to a grocery store in the U.S. Thirty percent are making monthly online grocery purchases and Internet retail of snacks has grown at 20 to 25 percent year-over-year the past five years.

Don’t count out more traditional outlets just yet. “Alternative” snacks were predicted to perform well in C-stores, posting dollar sales increases of 2.8 percent for 2018. This feeds off a demand for more diverse, healthier options in convenient packaging. Regardless of the brick and mortar outlet used for shopping, however, manufacturers cannot discount the connection to a world where 50 percent of retail sales in the U.S. are digitally influenced.8

Egg Products Form, Function and Flavor

While hard-boiled eggs might supply the most visual form of an egg product within a snack application, other forms of eggs can play a role in new product creation as well. Whole eggs, egg yolks, egg whites and other specialty products, or precooked eggs in various forms, can help product developers achieve their snack formulation goals.

Egg products are available in multiple forms for ease of storage and use in production— liquid, dried and frozen. Liquid eggs offer a 12-week shelf life; frozen eggs, a shelf life of approximately one year, and the same for dried. Beyond the different forms of whole eggs, egg yolks and egg whites, there are also manyspecialized egg products available for use in specific applications, such as, high-whip egg whites, high-gel egg whites, sugared or salted egg yolks, and enzyme-modified yolks. These specialized ingredients are often processed in a specific way to maintain functional properties. For example, dried egg white is pasteurized at a slightly lower temperature than other egg products to not prematurely denature the proteins that contribute to its foaming ability. That said, liquid and dried egg products can be used interchangeably in most cases without any noticeable differences in product quality.

In terms of safety, all further processed egg products are pasteurized and tout a safety record stretching more than four decades.

Contact your egg supplier or the American Egg Board for more guidance in selecting the appropriate egg ingredient for your formulation.

Just as snacks come in a variety of forms, so do egg ingredients, with each form supplying functional benefits to suit the application. Eggs as ingredients supply more than 20 functional properties and act synergistically with the vast majority of other ingredients. Among the properties supplied, the list includes aeration, whipping, emulsification, binding, coagulation and many others.

In one case a formulator might need help with product structure, and egg ingredients can help leaven, thicken, aid with texture, aerate or provide richness. Other snacks might be paired up with dipping sauces and egg yolk products can aid with emulsification, for just the right consistency and presentation.

Speaking of presentation, handheld sandwiches cross daypart boundaries for a simple, convenient snack anytime. Precooked egg products can top a bagel, pretzel roll or English muffin, or fill a burrito or taco. Whatever the format, egg ingredients can help.

Nutritionally one large egg supplies:

  • Just 70 calories
  • 6 grams of high-quality protein
  • 5 grams fat
  • A good or excellent source of 8 essential nutrients linked to various health issues and concerns, including weight management, macular degeneration and cognitive functions

Unparalleled Protein Quality

With protein snacks and protein-fortified foods in such strong demand, protein quality becomes a factor for food manufacturers to consider. Eggs contain the highest quality protein among food ingredient options, second only to mother’s milk for human nutrition.

According to any measure, egg protein quality remains “eggceptional.” The Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (essential amino acid levels in a food) lists eggs at 100. The Biological Value (a measure of how efficiently dietary protein is turned into body tissue) lists eggs at 94. And the Protein Efficiency Ratio lists eggs as the highest of any type of protein tested.

As a “complete” protein, eggs contain all of the essential amino acids the body needs but cannot produce on its own. It is important to remember this refers to a whole egg, such as a hard-boiled egg as a component of a snack box. In terms of macronutrient distribution, 60 percent of the protein is contained in the egg white and 40 percent within the yolk.

Snacks high in protein have shown to keep individuals satisfied longer to help them consume fewer calories throughout the day. And it should be noted that more than 40 years of research has demonstrated that healthy individuals can enjoy eggs without significantly impacting their risk of heart disease.

Eggs in Everyday Use

Formulators follow the lead of consumers when including eggs in formulations, since eggs are found in 94 percent of all U.S. households.

They are popular across consumer demographics and across all dayparts, all year long. A full 82 percent of consumers believe eggs to be a healthier breakfast than cereal.

Consumers like eggs that are:

  • All natural
  • A good source of high-quality protein
  • Gluten-free
  • Low in calories

Per capita egg consumption is on the rise and part of this could be due to its growing popularity as a healthy snack option. While egg use as a breakfast item appears among 79 percent of respondents surveyed, consumers also eat eggs at lunch, dinner and as a snack. Thirty-four percent report relying on eggs for an afternoon snack, and 35 percent eat eggs as a weekend snack, according to a Russell Report issued in March 2018.

An overwhelming majority or 92 percent of consumers recognize eggs as a good source of protein, according to 2018 survey results. Three-quarters of Americans recognize the fact that eggs help a person feel full longer and contribute to a healthy diet, they list them as a good source of vitamin D and generally agree with all 20 of a list of positive characteristics associated with eggs.

Keeping it REAL

Eggs in any form can benefit the product label because most egg products can be listed simply as “eggs” on the ingredient panel.

Think about the ingredient panel on a snack box or small bite—each individual ingredient carries more weight because there are fewer components involved than in an entire meal.

Consumers of all ages are looking for fresh, real ingredients. Innova data (2018) shows that more than 20 percent of Americans consider real ingredients a key factor when deciding on food and beverage purchases. Looking at global product launches, many products call out not just the real ingredients, but often, the fact the product contains real eggs by printing a special, dedicated “burst” or box on the package’s front panel.

As it comes into the spotlight, snacking is changing dietary patterns in America and abroad. What hasn’t changed is the need for reliable, proven ingredients that can deliver functionally, nutritionally and flavorfully. Mindful snacking is gathering momentum because of the wellness benefits it provides. Future snacks will cater to this need. Rely on the unique nutritional benefits and functionality of REAL eggs for snack concepts that meet and exceed consumer expectations.











Gluten-Free Solutions Begin with REAL Eggs

Texture, chew, crumb, crust, taste and appearance — these are some of the hallmarks of a quality baked product in the eyes (or mouths) of a consumer, but devilishly tricky to recreate in a gluten-free version. Bakery items might comprise the majority of a gluten-free product line, but it also can include pasta, sauces, snacks, meats, desserts and even condiments.

Gluten-free eggs to liquid

However, formulators find baked goods a particular challenge due to the amount of gluten in traditional breads, cookies, muffins and the like. Other product categories generally rely less heavily on gluten with the possible exception of pasta. Even so, there is no single, drop-in ingredient solution that transforms a traditional formulation into gluten-free.

Fortunately there are certain tried and true ingredients that can assist with gluten-free formulating. One vital contributor is the egg. Egg ingredients supply more than 20 functional benefits to food formulators and can play a critical role to achieve proper form, function, appearance, taste, texture and shelf life. In their natural state, in the shell, eggs are completely free of gluten as are most of the further processed egg ingredients, such as liquid whole eggs, egg yolks and egg whites.

New Labeling Regulations

Each component of a gluten-free formulation matters because even miniscule amounts of gluten can add up collectively within the formulation. For example, unexpected sources of gluten can include spices or fermented ingredients such as enzymes, according to Joe Baumert, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who spoke at the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo in 2014. And in a facility that processes both traditional and gluten-free products, bakeries in particular can experience cross-contamination. These unexpected sources of gluten or cross-contamination scenarios can affect a product’s labeling status.

Different governing bodies around the globe have varying thresholds for gluten-free product definitions and labeling. Australia, New Zealand, the European Union, Canada, the United Kingdom and certain South American countries all have an official position for testing and detection levels of gluten that a manufacturer must meet in order to label a food gluten free. While the term “gluten-free” implies no gluten at all, global standards generally accept a level of 20 parts per million (ppm).

In the United States in August 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established formal standards for gluten-free labeling:

  • Product must contain less than 20 ppm detectable level of gluten
  • Product does not contain wheat, rye, barley or crossbred hybrids such as triticale
  • Product contains a gluten-containing grain or ingredient derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to less than 20 ppm (Note: Oats that contain less than 20 ppm of gluten may be labeled “gluten-free” but do not need to be certified as gluten free)
  • Products naturally gluten free such as bottled water or fresh produce

While the term “gluten-free” implies no gluten at all, global standards generally accept a level of 20 parts per million (ppm).

The ruling covers all FDA-regulated foods, dietary supplements and any imports subject to FDA regulations.

What is gluten and how does it affect gluten-sensitive individuals?

While gluten is most often associated with wheat, gluten is a protein found in a number of grains in addition to wheat, such as barley, rye, spelt, kamut and triticale. Gluten is an elastic substance that forms when glutenin and gliadin bind with water. It makes dough elastic and stretchy, entrapping gas within baked goods to provide a light airy structure and appropriate crumb and texture. Gluten can be present in many other products including deli meats, soups, sauces, confections or even toothpaste. Some of these are called “hidden” sources of gluten.

A person diagnosed with celiac disease, a small portion of the American population totaling less than one percent, must avoid gluten in order to remain healthy. Celiac disorder involves an IgA or IgG autoimmune response to gluten, leading to antibodies that attack the villi in the small intestines. Long-term abuse of the intestinal tract can lead to cancer, among other harmful consequences.

...gluten-free products will experience double-digit growth through 2018.

Although currently under debate, many other individuals claim gluten sensitivity, or an allergic response to gluten without biopsy evidence of villous atrophy. Still another, broader demographic group, has voluntarily decided to follow a gluten-free diet, with a Packaged Facts survey revealing “the conviction that gluten-free products are generally healthier” as the top motivation for purchase.

Gluten-free is a label some manufacturers use to tap into the better-for-you product segment, adding gluten-free to other claims such as soy-free, dairy-free and non-GMO, for example. Major market research groups use different metrics to measure market size resulting in a wide range of results, with Mintel’s $10.5 billion for 2013 on the high end to Euromonitor at $486.5 million on the low end. However, all agree when it comes to market forecasting, that gluten-free products will experience double-digit growth through 2018.

Evidence in Favor of Eggs

In a traditional wheat-based bread product, the gluten entraps and holds air bubbles. A leavening agent causes the gluten network to expand, the heat causes the bubbles to rise and then the structure sets, forming a combination of expansion, elasticity and rigidity. Formulators might work for months or even years to perfect gluten-free bread that has proper structure, crumb, texture, appearance, rise, volume and shelf life. Egg proteins can help in many instances.

As egg proteins are exposed to acid or heat, they break and the protein strand denatures. When they aggregate back together again, they entrap air and moisture. This can provide height, volume and stability to chemically leavened baked goods.

Cakes, cookies, muffins and other sweet baked products benefit further from egg ingredient inclusions, because the sugar within the formulation raises the temperature at which egg proteins coagulate. The egg proteins form more and larger air cells, creating a light, fluffy texture, particularly appealing in cakes, muffins and other baked items where a certain level of rise and open, airy texture is expected.

Gluten-free improve products

When formulating with gluten-free flour, moisture content is a critical aspect. If the formulator is baking an item that is expected to rise and the dough is dry, it will be too dense. If the dough is too moist, the rise will be good, but will collapse during the baking period. The common complaint with gluten-free baked goods, such as cookies or sandwich bread is they crumble easily. Therefore binding properties as well as textural qualities are vitally important in ingredient selection. Egg yolks can act as a lipid source in foods by softening a product’s texture.

And not surprisingly, when bakers look to alternative flours for gluten-free formulating, the protein content of the replacement flour is a key factor. According to one expert, the flour’s protein level should be near the 10 percent typical of wheat flour, plus or minus a few points depending on whether the end product is bread, pastry or pasta. Most alternatives top out at about five percent. Rice flour might have a bland flavor, however corn, soy and potato flours all carry a more distinctive taste and are detectable in a product trying to pass itself off as a wheat alternative. A protein source such as an egg ingredient that helps with functionality and itself possesses a bland flavor is invaluable in gluten-free formulating.

Kansas State University researchers, led by Fadi Aramouni, Ph.D., investigated the use of egg ingredients in gluten-free bread to improve the taste, volume, color, moisture and texture. They presented their findings at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Meeting & Food Expo.

The researchers discovered that whole liquid eggs used in gluten-free sorghum bread at 25 percent on a flour basis exhibited the most favorable impact on the bread flavor, texture, volume and moisture level. According to Aramouni, “The addition of eggs made the texture softer and helped maintain moisture and retard staling, which is important to maintaining shelf life.”

A protein source such as an egg ingredient that helps with functionality... is invaluable in gluten-free formulating.

Protein Type Makes a Difference

The type of protein selected to replace the wheat protein does play a critical role in product quality,1 according to a study published in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Food Hydrocolloids. A team of researchers in Spain and Venezuela tested the effects of five different proteins from both animal and vegetable sources on a gluten-free muffin, looking at their impact on dough rheology and finished product qualities such as volume, color, texture and moisture content.

Egg white protein performed well compared to the other protein sources in the study, contributing positive functional benefits to the batter’s rheological characteristics and increasing both height and volume in the finished product.

In general, major technical challenges for food manufacturers attempting to create gluten-free baked goods include dough consistency, dense products, dry crumb structure and shelf life.

Beyond Bread

Egg protein, specifically from egg whites, can help batter and breading adhere to frozen appetizers or foods. The heat causes the egg proteins to coagulate and connect the food components with each other.

For pasta, the egg proteins enhance machinability and the pasta cooking quality, plus lend a desirable texture and color. In general a gluten-free product that includes rice or tapioca flour for example, will be lighter in color than a product with traditional wheat flour. The xanthophyll contained in egg yolks that give them their rich golden color can help add rich color to pasta or breads.

In prepared entrees eggs create gels that thicken, bind and lend structure without gluten. Especially when a small amount of wheat is used to bind products together, such as in pasta fillings or meatballs, egg ingredients can substitute.

Egg proteins can improve the mouthfeel of sweet goods and puddings by providing substantial body and smoothness. They can be used to thicken sauces, gravies and other viscous products that normally rely on wheat-based starch ingredients, according to Glenn Froning, Ph.D., food technology advisor for American Egg Board and professor emeritus at University of Nebraska’s food science department. With minor modifications to gravies and sauces, this could open up entire product categories to those with wheat sensitivity. Sauces and gravies are often utilized in frozen prepared meals, for example, and are the component most likely to contain wheat- or gluten-based ingredients.

And compared to other protein options, egg ingredients offer a bland flavor that allows the characteristic flavors of the main ingredient “hero” to come through clearly and cleanly.

Nutrition Also A Consideration

Those diagnosed with celiac disease may also be prone to nutritional deficiencies, and when following a gluten-free diet should be aware of the particular vitamins and minerals that might be lacking.2 Proper advice from a nutritionist can help remedy the situation.3

Gluten-free BV Chart

In addition, proper ingredient choices in gluten-free formulating can boost a product’s nutritional profile. One whole egg contains six grams of protein with all nine essential amino acids, which are defined as amino acids the human body requires but cannot synthesize. This includes histidine, leucine, lysine, isoleucine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, phenylalanine and valine. The essential amino-acid composition of egg protein is similar to the human body’s requirement, allowing the body to use the protein more efficiently for growth. Using protein’s biological value (BV) scale, with 100 representing top efficiency, whole-egg protein has a BV of 93.7 as compared to milk (84.5) fish (76.0), beef (74.3) and soybeans (72.8).4

Eggs also are an excellent source of choline, a good source of vitamin D and contain smaller amounts of B vitamins, plus A, E and K, in addition to lutein and zeaxanthin.

Choline, Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Eggs are one of the richest dietary sources of choline, an essential nutrient that plays an important role in fetal and infant brain development, affecting the areas of the brain responsible for memory and life-long learning ability.5, 6 Eggs also contain small amounts of zeaxanthin and well-absorbed lutein.7, 8 These carotenoids have been associated with reduced LDL oxidation9 and a decreased risk of cataracts and macular degeneration,10 a progressive eye condition that affects 9.1 million people in the U.S. over the age of 40 years.11 While eggs contain very small amounts of these nutrients, research has shown that the lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs might be more bioavailable than from richer sources like spinach and kale.

Good Form

Formulators can select from among dried, liquid and frozen egg products available in whole egg, yolks and whites, with and without additional ingredients to provide longer shelf life or enhanced functionality. Egg products assist in emulsification, increasing volume and improving machinability while providing consistency in measurement and ensuring quality. Quality control managers can be assured that all products are pasteurized to destroy Salmonella and other bacteria. And, of course, egg products are label-friendly.

Keeping it Clean

Celiac consumers, due to the nature of their disorder are more educated than the average consumer about reading labels, and the average consumer is inspecting product labels today far more than in the past.

According to findings from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2014 survey,12 65 percent of consumers check the Nutrition Facts Panel and 52 percent read the ingredients list. Almost three-quarters of consumers or 71 percent of those responding cited healthfulness as a factor impacting their food and beverage purchases.

Listing eggs on the ingredient label keeps it short, familiar and nonthreatening to the celiac consumer. In addition, most egg ingredients add essential proteins to the nutritional value of the food, and proper nutrient intake is of utmost importance to this population. While machinability and processing will differ for gluten-free compared to traditional formulations, particularly in baking, certain ingredients provide greater benefits than others.

Listing eggs on the ingredient label keeps it short, familiar and nonthreatening to the celiac consumer.

With eggs in the formulation all types of gluten-free foods, including breaded appetizers, pizza, gravies, desserts, cookies and more function properly and present an appetizing appearance and taste. Egg ingredients exhibit a special affinity for solving formulation issues in gluten-free foods. Choose REAL eggs for a functional and nutritional ingredient that helps these specialty foods satisfy the gluten-free market


1. Matos, ME, Sanz T, Rosell, CM: Establishing the function of proteins on the rheological and quality properties of rice based gluten free muffins. Food Hydrocolloid, 2014, 35:150-158.

2. Raymond N, Heap J, Case S: The Gluten-Free Diet: An Update for Health Professionals. J Pract Gastro, 2006, 67-92(9).

3. Cupples Cooper, C: Gluten free and healthy — dietitians can help reverse nutrition deficiencies common in celiac disease patients. Today’s Dietitian, 2012, 14(5): 24.

4. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: The Amino Acid Content of Foods and Biological Data on Proteins. 1971. Nutrition Study #24; Rome, Italy.

5. Zeisel SH: The fetal origins of memory: the role of dietary choline in optimal brain development. J Pediatr, 2006, 149: S131-136.

6. Zeisel SH, da Costa KA: Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutr Rev, 2009, 67: 615-623.

7. Chung HY, Rasmussen HM, Johnson EJ: Lutein bioavailability is higher from lutein-enriched eggs than from supplements and spinach in men. J Nutr, 2004, 134: 1887-1893.

8. Goodrow EF, Wilson TA, Houde SC, Vishwanathan R, Scollin PA, Handelman G, Nicolosi RJ: Consumption of one egg per day increases serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations in older adults without altering serum lipid and lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations. J Nutr, 2006, 136: 2519-2524.

9. Giordano P, Scicchitano P, Locorotondo M, Mandurino C, Ricci G, Carbonara S, Gesualdo M, Zito A, Dachille A, Caputo P, et al: Carotenoids and cardiovascular risk. Curr Pharm Des, 2012, 18: 5577-5589.

10. Burke JD, Curran-Celentano J, Wenzel AJ: Diet and serum carotenoid concentrations affect macular pigment optical density in adults 45 years and older. J Nutr, 2005, 135:1208-1214.

11. Website MDA: Facts, Figures and Statistics. 2014.

12. IFIC: Food & health survey. 2014. International Food Information Council Foundation, Washington, D.C.


REAL Eggs Make a Real Difference

There is no single one-to-one substitution that can replace the multiple functional and synergistic properties supplied by REAL egg ingredients. The flavor, functionality and appeal of REAL eggs delivers the gold standard formulators expect and consumers demand. It is a gold standard product—measured by taste, texture and appearance—that prompts repeat purchases and results in market success. Formulators can achieve this with REAL egg ingredients.

Myths about food and nutrition abound. What might be called the “mis-information superhighway” is filled with contradictions. Often rumors spread faster than factual, scientifically backed information, which makes it difficult for consumers and professionals alike to discern the truth.

ProteinProponents claim superiority of egg-substitute ingredients compared to egg ingredients for formulation. While these alternatives function on a basic level, the question is, will they produce the gold standard products consumers expect? Egg ingredients provide the function, flavor, nutrition and overall performance expected in multiple applications, including baked goods, pasta, desserts, hand-held sandwiches, prepared meals and other product categories.

One Basic Ingredient, Essential Benefits

Egg ingredients supply more than twenty functional properties to foods, including aeration, binding, coagulation, emulsification, foaming and whipping, to name just a few. They perform these functions well under rigorous processing conditions, such as high shear and high temperature, proving their reliability through decades of modern food manufacturing.

Alternative ingredients have limited functionality, and can contribute to off flavors in the final products. In order to achieve full functionality and an appearance, taste and texture similar to the original formulation with eggs, an egg substitute may also require the addition of emulsifiers, oils, gums, polysaccharides, acids, enzymes, colorants or flavoring agents. This can create a lengthy label statement and result in a product that falls short of expectations for taste, texture or appearance.

Taste Ranks Number One

ProteinTaste still trumps any other measurement for product success. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation 2015 Food & Health survey reported taste as the top factor influencing consumer’s food and beverage purchases, with taste selected as a primary purchase factor by 83 percent of those surveyed. Many manufacturers of ingredients positioned as egg replacers suggest incorporating their ingredients into products with a strong flavor, to mask off notes. Real egg ingredients allow formulators to create products without worrying about off-flavors.

Egg replacers are generally divided into three categories: plant-based replacers derived from soy, wheat, pea, etc.; whey protein-based; and carbohydrate or gum-based. Each has a unique set of characteristics that formulators must take into consideration. For example, some egg replacements do not emulate the sensory profile of REAL eggs and/or may contain a strong flavor. For others, the functional range may be limited.

Complementary or Complete Protein?

ProteinJust as functional differences exist between proteins, nutritionally not all are the same either. There are complementary or incomplete proteins and complete proteins. Plant-based proteins for example, would be considered incomplete or complementary because they would lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids in the proportion and/or the amount required by the human body. Complementary pairings ingested within a certain time frame must attempt to supply the complete set of essential amino acids the human body requires.1

Eggs are a high-quality protein, and considered complete because one egg supplies nine essential amino acids (EAA). These EAA are found in greater amounts in eggs than in vegetable-based proteins.2 Eggs contain the EAA leucine, which stimulates muscle protein synthesis in the body. Because of their EAA profile and high digestibility, eggs have traditionally been used as the standard of comparison for measuring protein quality. In addition to its high-quality protein, one standard large egg supplies 13 other essential nutrients for a nutrition profile not found in any single substitute ingredient.3

Substitute ingredients have an amino acid content suppliers might describe as “complementary,” which means more than one type of protein must be used in formulation to supply a complete amino acid profile. Companies that manufacture these products sometimes identify the other ingredients a formulator might need to add to an application in order to create a complete protein. Instead of combining different ingredients, formulators can choose to use REAL eggs.


The protein source, whether animal- or plant-based, does affect sustainability. While plants produce a lower amount of greenhouse gases than animals, there are additional factors to consider when evaluating sustainability of a protein source. A landmark study that examined U.S. egg production practices over the last fifty years detailed the egg industry’s successful efforts to reduce its environmental footprint. Improved hen feed, better disease control and reduced use of natural resources have benefited the environment as well as improved animal health. The study found that the U.S. egg industry lowered its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 71 percent and improved water use efficiencies by 32 percent during that time. The industry also met the needs of a U.S. population that grew by 72 percent over the last fifty years, while increasing the hen supply by just 18 percent.4,5

New studies take a different view of the greenhouse gas comparisons of foods by factoring in nutrient density, or the nutritional value a food offers. Drewnowski noted, “The American diet is said to be increasingly energy-rich but nutrient-poor.”6

ProteinA study published in 2015 compared the energy and nutrient density of foods in relation to their carbon footprint or GHG score.7 While sugar, sweets and grains exhibited the lowest GHGs, study authors stated they have “high energy density and a low nutrient content.”

The most nutrient-dense foods in the study had the highest GHG scores. However, GHG scores of individual foods differed depending on whether the score was made on a per weight basis, per energy basis or per nutrient density. Animal-based proteins typically offer a greater nutrient density than plant-based foods. The authors recommended further study saying, “Consideration of the environmental impact of foods needs to be linked to concerns about nutrient density and health.”

Eggs’ nutrient density is often overshadowed by concerns over the cholesterol content of egg yolks and the belief that consuming them will contribute to increased blood cholesterol levels and ultimately heart disease. However, clinical studies have shown that the majority of the population does not experience significant increases in plasma cholesterol even after an extended increase in dietary cholesterol.8,9 One recent study from 2013 examined the health effects of REAL eggs versus yolk-free egg substitutes in individuals diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. The results showed that a diet with moderately restricted carbohydrates that included three whole eggs per day actually improved lipid metabolism and insulin resistance in these individuals to a greater extent than the diet using egg substitutes.10

The nutrient density of an egg yolk can help contribute to a healthy diet. In addition, egg yolks contain docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), essential nutrients for infant or adult neural development and maintenance.11,12

Allergy News

The prevalence of food allergies in the U.S. is increasing and no one disputes the serious nature of foodborne allergies. However, while an average of two percent of the population under age five is allergic to eggs, studies suggest that most children appear to outgrow their egg allergy by late childhood.

Recent studies find that changes in the protein structure of eggs, resulting from cooking, can make them safe for the majority of children with egg allergies. In one study, researchers discovered that initiation of a baked egg diet accelerates the development of regular egg tolerance compared with strict avoidance.13

In another study researchers served participants standard cake/bread recipes that used eggs as ingredients, in a preparation baked at 350° F for 30 minutes. It found that more than half of the children in the study (56 percent) could tolerate the egg baked in the cake or bread product.

Children who can tolerate heated egg products appear to outgrow their allergies to eggs at an accelerated rate, compared with children with an egg allergy who maintain strict avoidance of eggs.

A presentation at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2012 Annual Scientific Meeting featured results of a survey of more than 40,000 children to find that of the eight most common food allergies in the U.S., egg allergy was the most likely for children to outgrow. Fifty-five percent of egg-allergic children ultimately developed a tolerance for eggs. Those who were diagnosed with an egg allergy before age ten were the most likely to go on to outgrow their allergy.14 The researchers said this evidence of outgrowing a food allergy could lead to these individuals being able to enjoy a much more diverse diet.

Formulating with Eggs

ProteinThe functional properties that egg ingredients provide to product formulations vary depending upon the application. However a few categories stand out.

Egg white added at 2-7 percent to pasta helps strengthen and improve pasta texture, bite and appearance, allowing for its use in a wide variety of environments, from steam tables to frozen prepared meals.

The quality and sensory properties of egg noodles declines when attempting to replace whole egg with substitute ingredients. Researchers testing cooking quality parameters, texture and color while experimenting with various substitutes found whole-egg noodles had less cooking loss and firmer texture compared with noodles prepared with substitute ingredients. And “none of the egg substitute’s studies could totally replace whole egg in the egg noodles without resulting in some loss of quality.” Further, the study said, “Noodle cooking quality is not strongly affected by the difference in protein content in egg substitutes. The results suggest that the chemical composition of the egg alternatives has more influence on the noodle quality than the protein content does.”15


In reviewing research efforts to reduce fat and cholesterol contents in salad dressing and mayonnaise, Ma and Boye16 reported the possibility of using plant-based ingredients or reduced-cholesterol egg yolk in the formulation of mayonnaise. They suggested that other ingredients with different functional roles, such as gums, starches, emulsifiers, stabilizers and fat replacers must be used to maintain the original viscoelastic properties of dressing and mayonnaise. The studies examined by the authors evaluated the behavior of using plant-based proteins, such as soybean, lupin, pea, and wheat proteins as emulsifiers to replace yolk. However, formulators might need to use multiple ingredients in order to compensate for the absence of egg’s functionalities. These additions can create labeling issues that conflict with the “Clean Label” consumer trend.


In the baking industry in particular, eggs supply binding, leavening, tenderizing, volume, texture, stabilization, emulsification, foaming, coagulation, flavor, color and nutritional value, with texture and sensory qualities as key parameters. Such a unique and extensive concentration of functional contributions is not likely to be found in a single substitute for eggs as an ingredient.

A test conducted using egg replacers in sugar cookies and peanut butter cookies found that a trained tasting panel rated the eggless cookies as significantly less acceptable than all other peanut butter cookies, judging them as unacceptable. Overall, cookies made with whole egg and egg white were ranked as significantly more acceptable than cookies made with an egg replacer. The researchers suggested that the omission of egg might have eliminated a major hydrating and binding agent in the dough, resulting in dry cookies with altered texture and flavor. The sugar cookie dough was, in fact, considered “not workable.” The researchers suggested “omitting egg from peanut butter or sugar cookies is not a viable alternative.”17


In a study conducted in 2013, researchers tested emulsifiers with different structures and functionalities. Seven eggless cakes containing soy milk were baked to determine the optimal proportions of emulsifiers necessary to produce an eggless cake sample. These included physical properties of cake batters (viscosity, specific gravity and stability), cake quality parameters (moisture loss, density, specific volume, color, texture, etc.) and sensory attributes. They then compared this with a control cake that contained egg. “Almost in all cases emulsifiers, compared to the control cake, changed properties of eggless cakes significantly,” the study concluded.18

Even in studies designed with the goal of proving that an egg replacer will work properly, the authors sometimes admit that eggs contribute “high nutritional value and multifunctional properties, including emulsification, coagulation, foaming and flavor,”19 and “because of the functional roles of egg in cake production it would be difficult to reduce or substitute egg in cake completely.”20

ProteinA 2011 study assessed muffins made with egg replacers representative of the three types of replacers available in the marketplace. A replacer containing a mixture of soy flour, wheat gluten, corn syrup solids and alginate; a fiber type of replacer containing sugar cane fiber, xanthan gum and guar gum; and a whey protein concentrate replacer. The soy flour produced muffins with the most intense aftertaste and least desirable overall flavor. The researchers found none of the replacers produced an acceptable product at 100 percent replacement and maximum replacement levels did not exceed 75 percent.21 Overall, the findings revealed that egg as an ingredient was critical to obtaining the desired product quality characteristics, as replacers altered moisture retention, bulk density, color, texture and flavor.

Kevin Keener, Ph.D., P.E., professor of food science and food process engineering at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, pointed out that in an eggless cake comparison, while the egg is the most costly ingredient, it provides significant nutritional content and serves a variety of functional roles, including emulsification, coagulation, foaming, flavor and color development during baking. Keener said, “These functional roles are derived by the unique set of proteins present in the egg white and the lipoproteins in the yolk. The variety and content of the proteins and lipoproteins in the egg contribute to its unique ability to successfully function across a wide range of food applications.

“There have been many attempts to replace eggs with blending of lower cost plant and animal proteins and emulsifiers. The challenge is the egg protein functionality is a collective effect from a diverse set of the proteins and lipoproteins that exhibit functionality across a wide range of temperatures, storage conditions, baking conditions and food compositions. To date, all of the known animal and plant protein combinations that position themselves as egg replacers fall short in a number of roles. Thus, one can find a suitable substitute for achieving some desirable properties, but not all,” said Keener. Egg alternatives fall short of the formulation benefits found with REAL egg ingredients. Eggs’ versatile functional and nutritional properties make it difficult, if not impossible, to replace them with any single substitute.


1. Woolf, PJ, Fu LL, Basu A. Protein: Identifying Optimal Amino Acid Complements from Plant-Based Foods. April 22. Doi; 10.1371/journal.pone.0018836.

2. Layman D, Rodriquez N. Egg protein as a source of power, strength and energy. Nutrition Today 2009;44:43-47.

3. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2014. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, release 27 Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,

4. American Egg Board. The Egg and Sustainability. /food-manufacturers/why-eggs/white-papers/the-egg-and-sustainability. (Accessed February 17, 2015).

5. Egg Industry Center, Iowa State University. A comparative assessment of the environmental footprint of the U.S. egg industry in 1960 and 2010, August 2013. (Accessed February 17, 2015).

6. Drewnowski, A. Concept of a nutritious food: toward a nutrient density score. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;82(4):721-732.

7. Drewnowski, A, Rehm CD, Martin A, Verger EO, Voinnesson M, Imbert P. Energy and Nutrient Density of Foods in Relation to their Carbon Footprint. Am J Clin Nutr 2015;101:184-191.

8. Fernandez ML, Webb D. The LDL to HDL cholesterol ratio as a valuable tool to evaluate coronary heart disease risk. J Am Coll Nutr 2008;27:1-5.

9. Greene CM, Zern TL, Wood RJ, Shrestha S, Aggarwal D, Sharman MJ, Volek JS, Fernandez ML. Maintenance of the LDL cholesterol: HDL cholesterol ratio in an elderly population given a dietary cholesterol challenge. J Nutr 2005;135:2799-28014.

10. Blesso CN, Anderson CJ, Barona, J, Volek JS, Fernandez ML. Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndrome. Metabolism. 2013; 62:400-410.

11. Wijendran V, Huang M, Diau G, Boehm G, Nathanielsz PW, Brenna J T. Efficacy of Dietary Arachidonic Acid Provided as Triglyceride or Phospholipid as Substrates for Brain Arachidonic Acid Accretion in Baboon Neonates. Ped Res, 2002;51:265-272.

12. Gibson R A, Neumann M A, Makrides M. Effect of increasing breast milk docosahexaenoic acid on plasma and erythrocyte phospholipid fatty acids and neural indices of exclusively breast fed infants. Eur J Clin Nutr 1997;51:578-584.

13. Leonard SA, Sampson HA, Sicherer SH, Noone S, Moshier EL, Godbold J, Nowak-Wegrzyn A. Dietary baked egg accelerates resolution of egg allergy in children. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2012; Aug;130(2):473-80.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2012.06.006.

14. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) 2012 Annual Scientific Meeting: Abstract FP 18. Presented November 8, 2012. website. (Accessed February 26, 2015).

15. Khouryieh H, Herlad T, Aramouni FA. Quality and sensory properties of fresh egg noodles formulated with either total or partial replacement of egg substitutes. JFood Sci 2006;71:433-437.

16. Ma Z, Boye J I. Advances in the Design and Production of Reduced-Fat and Reduced-Cholesterol Salad Dressing and Mayonnaise: A Review. Food Bioprocess Technol 2013;6:648-670.

17. Ries C, Totheroh B, Palatability of peanut butter and sugar cookies made with egg substitutes. J Am Diet Assoc 1994;94:321-322.

18. Rahmati, NF, Tehrani MM, Influence of different emulsifiers on characteristics of eggless cake containing soy milk: Modeling of physical and sensory properties by mixture experimental design. J. Food Sci Technol 2014;51:1697-1710.

19. Kohrs D, Herald TJ, Aramouni FM, Abughoush M. Evaluation of egg replacers in a yellow cake system. Emir J Food Agric 2010;22:340-352.

20. Ashwini A, Jyotsna R, Indrani D. Effect of hydrocolloids and emulsifiers on the rheological, microstructural and quality characteristics of eggless cake. Food Hydrocol 2009;23:700-707.

21. Geera B, Reiling J A, Hutchison M A, Rybak D, Santha B, Ratnayake W S. A comprehensive evaluation of egg and egg replacers on the product quality of muffins. J Food Qual 34: 333-342, 2011.


Landmark 50-year Study Documents U.S. Egg Industry Reduced Environmental Footprint

Improved hen feed, better disease control, advancements in hen housing systems and subsequent reduction of natural resource use — reduced environmental footprint.

Research Summary

Population Increase StatisticsA new study demonstrates how the egg industry has reduced its environmental footprint over the last fifty years through improved hen feed, better disease control, advancements in hen housing systems and subsequent reduction of natural resource use. This life cycle analysis of U.S. egg production also showed the industry reduced its environmental impact while increasing hen supply by just 18 percent to meet the demands of a U.S. consumer population that grew 72 percent over the same 50-year period. The egg industry is dedicated to further improvements in efficiency and waste reduction while contributing an affordable source of high-quality, bioavailable protein to the U.S. food supply.

An Overview

In order to meet the nutrient requirements of a rapidly expanding global population, food systems must improve their efficiencies. Increased food production and environmental awareness are linked. New technologies and in the case of animals, new husbandry methods must be implemented in order to wisely utilize and preserve finite resources such as land, water and energy.

The Egg Industry Center released a landmark study comparing U.S. egg production in 2010 to the industry in 1960 to show that while egg production has increased over the past 50 years, the industry has also been able to significantly decrease its environmental footprint. Researchers conducted a life cycle analysis of U.S. egg production from 1960 to 2010 to evaluate environmental performance measures for the complete life cycle from crops to hens to the farm gate. Study findings indicate that the environmental efficiencies are the result of a wide range of factors, including the reduction of natural resource use, improved hen feed, better disease control and advancements in hen housing systems.

“The U.S. egg industry has evolved remarkably over the past five decades by incorporating new technologies to protect natural resources,” said Hongwei Xin, agricultural and biosystems engineering and animal science professor at Iowa State University, director of the Egg Industry Center and the study’s lead researcher. “Egg farmers have improved their production practices, allowing them to provide an affordable source of high-quality protein while using fewer resources and producing less waste.”

Star IconKey study results comparing 2010 to 1960:
  • Egg production releases significantly less polluting emissions, including 71 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Today it takes 32 percent less water to produce a dozen eggs.
  • Today’s hens use a little over half the amount of feed to produce a dozen eggs.
  • At the same time, today’s hens produce 27 percent more eggs per day and are living longer.

Keys to Improvement

Due to increased feed efficiency, advancements in hen housing and manure management, egg farms now use less water and energy on a daily basis and release less polluting emissions. Every aspect of the egg production process, from cultivating feed to raising the laying hens, has led to a reduced environmental footprint.

Egg Production Statistics


  • Feed efficiency plays a key role in reducing environmental impacts. Because of advancements in nutrition and bird breeding, young hens now require 48 percent less food during the rearing period than they did in 1960, and the laying hens have 42 percent better feed conversion. Using 1960 technology to produce the 2010 egg supply would have required 78 million more hens, 1.3 million more acres of corn and 1.8 million more acres of soybeans.
  • Advancements in hen housing, such as improved building ventilation, temperature control, better lighting and a more secure housing environment, help to ensure that hens are protected from disease-carrying wildlife. These techniques have been widely adopted by egg farmers across the country, leading to healthier hens with a lower mortality and higher rate of egg production. In addition, advancements in the development of preventative medicine to eliminate avian diseases have greatly improved hen health.
  • Manure management has played a role in minimizing the egg industry’s environmental footprint. The vast majority of manure from laying hens is recycled into crop production, providing nutrients for plants, contributing to healthy soils, saving energy and reducing commercial fertilizer use.

Study Methods

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is the most widely used tool for studying environmental performance in food systems from a supply chain perspective. LCA is an ISO (14044) standardized framework for characterizing the material and energy flows and emissions along product supply chains, and quantifying how these contribute to a variety of resource use, human health and environmental impact potentials. In this study, Egg Industry Center used ISO-compliant LCA to quantify the environmental performance of U.S. egg production in 2010 vs. 1960.

Using industry-supplied activity data that was collected using anonymous surveys, this study first characterized the material, energy inputs and emissions associated with contemporary egg production supply chains in the United States. The system boundaries for this analysis included all cradle-to-facility gate direct and indirect inputs and emissions arising from: the agricultural and industrial production systems from which raw materials for feed inputs are derived; the processing of raw materials; the production of feeds; the production of chicks; and farm-level material and energy use and emissions of pullet and layer facilities. The data collected directly represented 57.1 million pullets and 92.5 million laying hens, or 26 and 33 percent of the respective stock populations in the United States in 2010. Subsequently, a parallel model of U.S. egg production in 1960 was developed based on published literature sources and in consultation with industry experts for comparison with 2010 production conditions. The environmental footprint indicators used in this study were acidifying emissions (acidification), eutrophying emissions (eutrophication), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, global warming potential (GWP), and cumulative energy demand (CED).


The following changes in production performance of U.S. pullets and laying hens were observed over time.

Compared with 1960 pullets, 2010 pullets have:

  • 30 percent lighter body weight at onset of lay
  • 48 percent less feed use over pullet-rearing period
  • 70 percent lower mortality over pullet-rearing period

Similarly, compared with 1960 laying hens, 2010 laying hens have:

  • 26 percent less daily feed use
  • 27 percent higher hen-day egg production
  • 42 percent better feed conversion
  • 57 percent lower mortality
  • 32 percent less direct water use per dozen eggs produced

The analysis showed the following reductions in the environmental footprint per kg of eggs produced in the U.S. over the 50-year time interval considered:

  • 65 percent lower acidifying emissions
  • 71 percent lower eutrophying emissions
  • 71 percent lower GHG emissions
  • 31 percent lower CED

The total supply of 77.8 billion eggs produced in the U.S. in 2010 was 30 percent higher than the 59.8 billion eggs produced in 1960. However, the total environmental footprint for 2010 is:

Water Usage Graphic
  • 54 percent lower for acidifying emissions
  • 63 percent lower for eutrophying emissions
  • 63 percent lower for GHG emissions
  • 10 percent lower for CED

Further analysis found that using 1960 technologies to produce the amount of egg supply for 2010 would require the following additional resources:

  • Raising 27 percent (78 million) more hens
  • Growing 72 percent (1.3 million acres or 0.53 million hectares, or 5.2 metric tonnes) more corn
  • Growing 72 percent (1.8 million acres or 0.73 million hectares, or 1.7 metric tonnes) more soybean

Demand for these additional resources would, in turn, translate into greater environmental impacts.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The study analysis of the distribution and magnitude of life cycle impacts for egg production in the U.S. in 1960 compared to 2010 provides a clear indication of the scale of environmental performance gains, both per unit production and in aggregate, achieved by the industry over the past 50 years, as well as insights into the primary contributing factors. Several key insights emerge. From a supply chain management perspective, the key leverage point for environmental performance improvements in egg production has been and will continue to be efforts to maximize feed use efficiencies because feed production accounts for the largest share of impacts in egg production both in 1960 and at present. The feed conversion ratio for egg production improved from 3.44 kg/kg in 1960 to 1.98 kg/kg — a gain of 42 percent. Nonetheless, achieving feed use efficiencies comparable to the best performing contemporary facilities (the range reported by survey respondents was 1.76-2.32 kg/kg) industry-wide would do much to further reduce aggregate impacts.

Changing feed composition has also played an important role in reducing impacts — in particular, both reduction in the total amount of animal-derived materials used, as well as increased use of porcine and poultry materials in place of ruminant materials. The concept of least-environmental cost feed sourcing is therefore of particular relevance for additional targeted performance improvements for this industry. It is recommended that similar biophysical accounting methods to those applied in the current study be used to model potential alternative feed input supply chains to ensure methodological consistency and comparability with the present analysis.

Managing feed supply chains for environmental performance must also take into account nitrogen use efficiencies. Nitrogen (N) losses from poultry manure are the second largest contributor to acidifying and eutrophying emissions, as well as a non-trivial contributor to GHG emissions in both pullet and layer facilities. Moreover, upstream impacts of N fertilizer production and use are a primary determinant of feed input-related impacts. Feed formulation, breeding and selecting manure management strategies for optimal N use efficiencies are therefore powerful tools in supply chain environmental management. Here researchers modeled N losses using standard Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) protocols. Given the margin of error associated with manure N sampling, they recommend using this IPCC-based modeling approach. This will also maximize inter- and intra-company and product comparability. However, researchers also suggest continued efforts to improve and standardize company-level manure-N sampling accuracy, in order to allow for differentiation between facilities and production strategies looking forward.

Overall, study analysis provides compelling evidence that considerable strides in resource use efficiency and animal husbandry performance in the U.S. egg sector over the past 50 years have much reduced both the relative and absolute impacts of U.S. egg production.

Looking Ahead

Progress has been made on many fronts, including animal genetics, nutrition, disease prevention, housing equipment and environmental control and efficiency of feed production and use. Contemporary productivity would have been difficult to imagine 50 years ago.

Also apparent, however, is that there remains substantial scope for continued improvement. Moreover, in light of continued declines in Energy Return On Investment (EROI) for energy carriers consumed in egg supply chains, continuous improvement will likely be necessary simply to maintain the current status quo environmental footprint of the U.S. egg sector. The benchmarks reported here, as well as the reported ranges for resource use and production efficiencies in what are, ostensibly, otherwise similar production facilities, provide an excellent reference point for industry-led initiatives for further improving the environmental performance of U.S. egg production.

Efforts to further improve feed efficiency, hen housing facilities and manure management will facilitate even greater environmental footprint reductions in the future.

The study was funded by the American Egg Board, the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, the United Egg Association Allied and the Egg Industry Center. To obtain data for 2010, researchers conducted anonymous surveys with egg farmers and collected data on 57.1 million young hens and 92.5 million laying hens.

Study Authors/References

Egg Industry Center

Hongwei Xin

A professor of Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineering and Animal Science at Iowa State University; and Director of Egg Industry Center, Xin conducts research and extension programs. His focus is on air quality issues related to animal feeding operations, and impacts of housing and management factors on animal behavior, welfare, environmental impact, production efficiency, and ultimately sustainability of livestock and poultry operations.

Maro Ibarburu

The Egg Industry Center’s Associate Scientist — Business Analyst focuses his work on providing marketing and statistical information as well as flock and price projections to egg producers and allied egg industries. Ibarburu researches production efficiencies, marketing, and environmental footprint aspects for conventional and alternative production systems. He holds a M.S. in agricultural economics from Iowa State University.

Lesa Vold

Serving the Egg Industry Center in the role of Communications Specialist, Vold spent 11 years working on environmental sustainability, animal welfare, food safety and international standards related to the livestock and poultry industries. She has also applied ISO management systems framework to various industry segments including both agricultural and manufacturing.

Global Ecologic Environmental Consulting and Management Services

Nathan Pelletier

As Principal of Global Ecologic Environmental Consulting and Management Services, Canada, Pelletier specializes in sustainability accounting metrics and research. He uses environmental and social LCA, carbon footprinting, and environmental footprinting to assist companies in supply chain sustainability management and reporting. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed research and methodological studies in this domain.

View entire study online at:

50 Year Egg Study InfographicTo read or download a copy of the complete 28-page report on the Environmental Impact of Egg Production, click here.

To view or download the related infographic, click here.

To read the AEB press release, click here.


Yes, It Really Is Incredible - The Indisputably Potent Protein Eggs Supply

From villain to superhero in one bound? Sounds like a feat only a protein powerhouse could accomplish – and it has. Once scientific evidence dispelled the cholesterol myth, the egg regained its role as a nutrient-rich source of vitamins and minerals, including protein. And as today’s consumers engage in more mindful eating, they’re more deliberate about food choices. They routinely search for health benefits and actively read labels for ingredients of interest. Coincidentally, one nutrient of great interest today is protein. As its popularity soars, so do the foods and ingredients that can supply potent forms of this macronutrient, such as the egg.

Why Bother with Protein?

6 Grams Of ProteinThe Harvard School of Public Health notes that the human body contains 10,000 different proteins that “make you what you are and keep you that way.” Just 20 amino acids comprise these proteins, however nine are deemed “essential” because our bodies cannot manufacture them; we have to get them through eating a proper diet.1 Animal sources of protein, such as the egg, supply a full complement of these essential amino acid, while other, plantbased sources may lack one or more essential amino acid,2 with various sources saying a blend of these plant-based proteins is required in order to obtain a full complement of essential amino acids for human physiological requirements.3

The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. An easier way to look at it is the recommended daily allowance or RDA. In the U.S., the RDA is 46 grams of protein per day for women (age 19 or older) and 56 grams per day for men.4

Proteins are not Created Equal

Protein is a macronutrient, like fats and carbohydrates and provides a source of calories, or energy for the body. Protein is found in every cell in the body. It supplies energy, can boost satiety, help prevent muscle loss in older adults, and can help athletes after a workout, with muscle recovery. Amino acids, commonly referred to as the “building blocks of protein,” perform much of the work credited to protein. The amino acid composition of a protein determines the quality of different types of proteins.

Amino acids are classified as either essential or nonessential. The body cannot produce essential amino acids (EAA), identified as histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine, so they must be obtained through the diet. The protein in eggs is highly digestible and provides much of the essential amino acid supply the body needs.

The various methods used to evaluate a protein include Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER); Biological Value (BV), Net Protein Utilization (NPU) or Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDAAS). Comparatively, the egg is one of the top four most highly ranked proteins when measured in this type of scoring system. A high PDCAAS score, for example, highlights a protein that provides close to 100 percent of essential amino acids, and an egg scores 100 on this scale. And, while all four of the top proteins share similar essential amino acid profiles, the “amino acids obtained from whey and egg protein appear to be better utilized by the body than casein or soy, especially when considering dietary condition.”5

Protein in the Polls

When viewed on the ingredient level or as a ‘nutrient of interest,’ protein wrestles with fiber for first place in many surveys and polls. Consumers are very aware of the health benefits associated with protein and are actively seeking it in their food and beverage purchases. This has contributed to the fact that, according to market research firm Innova, Inc., the number of products with a protein label claim doubled between 2013 and 2017. Today, more than 10 percent of all new products being introduced to the market post a protein claim.

Coinciding with this trend, consumers also continue to drive clean label formulating, showing increasing mindfulness in their pursuit of authentic, transparent products that fit within a wellness model. As ‘free-from’ and ‘clean label’ claims proliferate, as many as 70 percent of shoppers in multiple countries, including the U.S.,6 say they want to “know and understand the ingredient list” of products they purchase. While numerous protein ingredient options are available, one ingredient choice, the egg, can deliver not just a valuable protein profile, but also additional, multiple functional benefits and clean label opportunities.

Protein Popularity

According to the International Food InformationCouncil (IFIC), U.S. consumers are actively seeking protein in products for a variety of related health benefits. They understand the link between protein consumption and health issues, such as heart health, joints, bones and cognition. The latest IFIC study reveals that among foods or nutrients sought for health issues, protein and vegetables were both perceived as most beneficial and most eagerly sought by the majority of consumers.7

Innova data shows the number of new product introductions with a protein claim has risen steadily over the past five years.

new product claims On a category by category basis perhaps none has seen such a dramatic rise as the snack category. Data for the first half of 2018 for snacks with protein claims doubled compared to all of 2013, an amazing shift over a five-year period.

Even desserts and sweet treats are not immune from this protein trend. A familiar candy from Mars, its Snickers® brand, introduced a protein-based version with the package claiming, 18 grams protein per bar. Another sweet treat, Halo Top ice cream, contains just 280 calories per pint and supplies a “good source” of protein at 20 grams per serving. The IRI New Product PaceSetter Report pegs Halo Top at $342.2 million for its first year of sales, leading all other 2017 foods and beverages by an impressive margin, considering the fact that 89 percent of the top 200 CPG brand launches of 2017 earned less than $40 million in year-one sales.

The fact that these products speak to the consumers’ sweet tooth is not surprising given the trend of healthier-for-you indulgences. Again, within the IRI Pacesetter report, desserts accounted for 23 percent of new food launches by consumption group as a percent of food pacesetter dollars, with breakfast solutions just behind at 19 percent.8

The report further states, “Protein continues to be a driving force in food innovation.” Thirty-six of the 76 Pacesetter food brands touted protein attributes, with most of the products contained within either the dinner or breakfast sectors.

Plant Forward Plus Eggs

Eggs aren’t confined to breakfast or dinner or excluded from any except the most rigid dietary plans. This is illustrated by eggs’ role in plantforward or flexitarian dining. Flexitarians are on the rise, according to new information from Datassential.9 The shift in eating patterns involves more plant-forward meals with a reduction, not elimination, of red meat. The very word ‘flexitarian’ stems from the concept of remaining flexible yet conscious of and deliberate when it comes to food choices. The flexitarian consumer wants to meet daily protein requirements and is very interested in healthful eating. This is where the egg can play an important role.

The benefits of including eggs within a flexitarian diet or combining eggs with plantbased proteins are many. In any instance, for example, the egg portion of the meal will contribute the full complement of essential amino acids required by the body while plant-based sources of protein can act as a supplement.

adding eggs to a plant-forward dish can actually increase vitamin absorptionOne study in particular found that adding whole eggs to a colorful salad increased the amount of vitamin E the body absorbs from the vegetables. This adds to the body of research showing that eggs help with vitamin absorption when paired with a salad or vegetables.10

Another study conducted in 2015 found that adding eggs to a salad increased the absorption of the vegetables’ carotenoids. The absorption of carotenoids, including alpha-carotene, betacarotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene was three- to eight-fold higher when the salad included three eggs compared to no eggs.11

The flexitarian diner should not be confused with a strict vegan consumer, which in the U.S. equals less than two percent of the overall population.12 In addition, flexitarians, like any other consumer group, are ultimately guided by taste and flavor.

Dispelling Myths

One myth is that vegetarians eschew eggs as part of their dietary plan. This myth is dispelled as most vegetarians, including semi-vegetarian, pescetarian and lacto-ovo vegetarians eat eggs and other animal products. Other myths, more seriously affecting the egg’s image, have been dispelled within recent years, including the belief about eggs and cholesterol. While egg yolks are a natural source of dietary cholesterol, the totality of scientific research has shown no or little effect between dietary cholesterol and cardiac outcomes. Because of this, government and health organizations have revised their dietary cholesterol recommendations. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans place no daily limit on dietary cholesterol intake. .

Although the body of evidence continues to mount in favor of eggs and their effect on overall health, two recent studies are worth mentioning. They show that eating an egg per day may help reduce the risk of stroke by 26 percent and eating up to 12 eggs per week does not negatively impact cholesterol for people with pre-diabetes or type-2 diabetes.

The first study, published in the journal Heart,13 examined data supplied by half a million adults in China, and found that when comparing those who ate eggs with those who did not, the daily egg consumption could help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The second study, conducted by scientists at the University of Sydney in Australia and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that in people who ate up to 12 eggs per week, there was no increase in cardiovascular risk factors for people with pre-diabetes or type-2 diabetes.14

Satiety and Weight Management

protein plus satietyWhile on the subject of dietary patterns and food consumption, over consumption should not be ignored. Obesity is a multi-factorial and complex health issue. Current guidance for weight management encourages physical activity along with consuming an overall healthy eating pattern which includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat and fat-free dairy products.

The recommendation for lean proteins is important, because multiple studies provide evidence to link protein to satiety. Several clinical trials have specifically assessed the effects of high-quality protein from eggs on satiety and weight loss. Some examples include:15

  • In a study in overweight adults, calorie-restricted diets that included either eggs or a bagel for breakfast were compared; the people who consumed eggs for breakfast lowered their body mass index by 61 percent, lost 65 percent more weight, and reported feeling more energetic than those who ate a bagel for breakfast.
  • Men who consumed an egg breakfast versus a bagel breakfast showed that appetite hormones were suppressed following eggs at breakfast, as was energy intake over the course of the day.
  • A study of overweight premenopausal women that evaluated satiety responses to eating a turkey sausage and egg breakfast sandwich versus a low-protein pancake breakfast showed better appetite control and in addition, participants consumed fewer calories at lunch following the egg-based breakfast.
  • In a 3-month trial among subjects with type2 diabetes, those who consumed 2 eggs per day for 6 days a week reported less hunger and greater satiety than those who consumed fewer than 2 eggs per week.

Protein and Beyond

The six grams of high-quality protein supplied by one large egg is just the beginning of an egg’s nutritional story. It is a rare protein source that contains, in its whole state, the complement of other essential vitamins and nutrients found in eggs, 13 in all, including choline, lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin D, identified by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) in 2010 as a nutrient of concern.

In 2015 DGAC listed eggs among several nutrient-dense foods, defined as foods that are naturally rich in vitamins, minerals and other substances that may have positive health effects.

Very few food sources such as the egg, naturally contain vitamin D, which among other benefits contributes to bone health. Studies suggest adequate vitamin D might play a role preventing cancer, hypertension and type-2 diabetes, among other physiological benefits.16

Choline and lutein in particular have received increased attention lately due to their contributions to human health, such as cognition and eye health. Choline, an essential nutrient, helps preserve cell structure and integrity, aids with brain development and function, memory, metabolism and mood, according to the National Institutes of Health.17

The American Optometric Association lists and discusses in depth the benefits that lutein and zeaxanthin provide for eye health to prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.18

A recent study in Nutrients discusses the food sources and bioavailability of lutein and zeaxanthin in connection with age-related macular degeneration protection and concluded a broad dietary pattern that includes green leafy vegetables and other foods, such as eggs and selected nuts, can aid eye health. The report stated that research suggests the bioavailability of these compounds (lutein, zeaxanthin) is higher (from eggs) than from vegetable sources, citing serum lutein and zeaxanthin levels measured over a period of several weeks.19

Protein’s Practical Side

protein plus safety Prepared Foods
The category of prepared meals has witnessed steady interest in the breakfast category, including handheld sandwiches, breakfast bowls and other prepared meals containingegg. Preformed egg patties or egg scrambles pose an obvious choice for many of these applications to help simplify manufacturing. Egg ingredients contribute more subtle benefits in other prepared foods putting into play one or more of the 20-plus functional properties ranging from adhesion to whippability.

Confections and Frozen Foods

The proteins found in egg whites help control crystallization in select confections and frozen foods. Crystallization impacts food quality and mouthfeel by lending a gritty texture to a substance that is supposed to be smooth creamy. Many confections involve a super-saturated solution of sugar and water. While saturation is desired, if it occurs too quickly, crystallization will result. Egg white introduced as an interfering agent slows the process of saturation, forming finer crystals for a smooth, creamy texture. In ice cream, egg yolk disperses fat throughout the ice cream mix to prevent it from clumping. Eggs aid in whipping properties to help achieve desired overrun. And the combination of protein and fat present in eggs can help prevent the aggregation of crystal-forming compounds.

Baking with Eggs

Baked goods rely on taste, texture and appearance for sales, and egg ingredients contribute to all three of these attributes, plus a portion of their shelf life. Frequently it is the protein content of the egg that is responsible for functional qualities that benefit baked goods, although when whole egg is used, the lipid component factors in as well.

Comprehensive new studies conducted by a clean label product development consultancy across a wide range of applications helped define the performance of egg ingredients compared to a variety of ingredients marketed and positioned as egg replacements. Overall the research found that egg ingredients provide superior functionality and flavor to baked goods and other food products tested. In fact, in conclusion the research team said there is no single replacer that can duplicate the multiple functional properties that eggs supply to food and baking applications.20

The researchers proceeded by selecting a control formula for common baking applications, prepared the gold standard version, including egg ingredients, then prepared other test samples switching out egg ingredients with replacers. Extensive analyses compared several physical points for texture and form, while sensory panelists evaluated the products for taste and mouthfeel.

Baked goods tested in this manner included many industry standard products such as angel food cake, blueberry muffins, brownies, cheesecake, chocolate chip cookies, frozen waffles, pumpkin pie filling, sponge cake, sugar cookies, sweet dough and yellow batter cake among others. Complete findings can be found on

Gluten-free products, most particularly in the baking area, benefit from egg functionality. Formulators can find baked goods within the gluten-free sector a particular challenge, due to the amount of gluten in traditional breads, muffins and any formulation that relies heavily upon traditional flours. In the case of gluten-free baked goods, the protein within egg ingredients can help add much needed protein to a formulation, which is lacking due to the absence of wheat flour and the lower protein content contributed by most substitute or alternative flours. In addition, the functions that eggs contribute, including binding, foaming, emulsification and coagulation can aid with product structure, texture, appearance and of course, flavor.

Incredibly Flexible

Eggs offer a protein ingredient available in multiple forms to suit different manufacturing environments. In addition to the categories mentioned above, the 20-plus functional benefits of eggs fit into almost every product category from appetizers through desserts.

Just a few of the functionalities include: protein functionality

More complete details about each individual functional property is available at

Egg ingredients are available in dried, liquid or frozen versions of whole eggs, egg yolk or egg white, depending on requirements. Pre-prepared egg products that have been scrambled, boiled or formed into patties also are available to help speed production of prepared meals, bowls or assist in foodservice operations. Designations for kosher, halal, cage-free, conventional and other formats are all listed in the Buyers’ Guide, available online and updated on a regular basis to provide the most current information about egg suppliers.

The answer to the question, ‘which protein is on your product label?’ – REAL eggs. The only complete protein that can completely satisfy manufacturing and processing parameters while satisfying your customer base.

Clamoring for Clean Label

There isn’t a single manufacturer that isn’t familiar with clean label marketing—or at least their definition of what that term means to consumers. The problem is that definition is multifaceted and constantly shifting. The clean label concept can include natural, minimally processed ingredients, “free-from” ingredient listings, transparency, nutrition and health, sustainability and even low-sugar or low-salt. The term “mindful eating” also can play into the clean label concept as an indicator of consumers more thoughtfully making food choices.Egg ingredients can help formulators create clean label products that don't require consumers to compromise on the eating experience they've come to expect

However, most manufacturers report that some of the challenges involved with clean label formulating include the finished product’s taste, texture and appearance. Shelf life can also be affected due to the missing functions supplied by ingredients that might need to be removed in order to achieve a cleaner label. Yet manufacturers must conquer these barriers since all of the statistics, from Nielsen to Innova, report clean label continues to gain momentum within all consumer groups

There is an ingredient that can help overcome functional challenges and that’s the egg. Egg ingredients supply more than twenty functional properties that can help with the finished product’s texture, taste, appearance and shelf life.

A more in-depth examination of the clean label challenges according to demographic group and the myriad ways egg ingredients can help formulations is available in one of our most recent white papers, “The Complex Challenge of Clean Label” found at

And for any questions about egg functionality, a great place to start is the encyclopedic listing of egg ingredient benefits from adhesion to whippability found here:


1. (Accessed Sept. 10, 2018)






7. International Food Information Council. International Food Information Council Foundation 2018 Food & Health Survey.



10. Kim J, Ferruzzi M, Campbell W; Egg Consumption Increases Vitamin E Absorption from Co-Consumed Raw Mixed Vegetables in Healthy Young Men. J Nutr. 2016 Nov; 146(11): 2199-2205.

11. Kim J, Gordon S, Ferruzzi M, Campbell M; Effects of Egg Consumption on Carotenoid Absorption from Co-consumed, Raw Vegetables, Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jul; 102(1): 75-83.










White papers

The American Egg Board is committed to providing the food processing industry with the most recent and up-to-date information as it relates to consumer trends and scientific information used in the development of applications where eggs play a role. Much has been written on the unique and irreplaceable benefits of eggs in applications such as baked goods, sauces and dressings and prepared foods. We invite you to download our latest reports.

REAL Eggs Make a Real Difference

There is no one-to-one substitution that can replace the multiple functional and synergistic properties supplied by REAL egg ingredients. We examine how REAL egg ingredients help supply the flavor, form and function to create gold standard products with consumer appeal…

Read the full white paper

Yes, It Really Is Incredible - The Indisputably Potent Protein Eggs Supply

From villain to superhero in one bound? Sounds like a feat only a protein powerhouse could accomplish – and it has. Once scientific evidence dispelled the cholesterol myth, the egg regained its role as a nutrient-rich source of vitamins and minerals, including protein.….

Read the full white paper

The Complex Challenge of Clean Label

Clean label products prove less can be more. However, clean label formulation can be anything but simple. Manufacturers need real ingredients from natural sources that can withstand the rigors of processing, create an attractive food or beverage with an enticing taste and mouthfeel, and supply a decent shelf life...

Read the full white paper

Gluten-Free Solutions Begin with REAL Eggs

The right ingredients create delicious gluten-free foods with great texture, taste and appearance; are compliant with FDA regulations for this product category. REAL eggs are gluten-free and provide a stellar functional profile…

Read the full white paper

The Egg and Sustainability

‘The Egg and Sustainability’ white paper summarizes a 50-year landmark study of the environmental impact of the U.S. Egg Industry. Improved production practices have led to healthier hens and lower resource use…

Read the full white paper

Additional Resources

Click here for the full 28 page study about the Environmental Impact of US Egg Production.

Click here for an infographic about the Environmental Impact of US Egg Production.

Click here for the press release about the Environmental Impact of US Egg Production.

Clean Lablel

The Complex Challenge of Clean Label

Deceptively Simple Yet Defying Definition

Clean label products prove less can be more. However, clean label formulation can be anything but simple. Manufacturers need real ingredients from natural sources that can withstand the rigors of processing, create an attractive food or beverage with an enticing taste and mouthfeel, and supply a decent shelf life. It’s a tall order, but certain ingredients, like the egg, have proven their worth through decades as multifunctional food processing staples. Plus, egg ingredients can help make gold standard clean label products a reality. Before diving into egg ingredient properties and benefits, it’s important to try to pin down the current state of the clean label movement. Because although the clean label trend has changed and evolved considerably over the years due to consumer demand, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Clean label seems a simple term but can sometimes defy firm definition. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to provide the industry with official terminology or regulations to describe clean label. And manufacturers must remember this is an industry term, coined by Innova Market Insights in 2014 (according to one publication) and eagerly latched onto as a convenient term to describe shifting market conditions. One publication reported, several surveys showed as many as eight out of 10 consumers have no idea what the term “clean label” means. Is it authenticity? Transparency? Natural? Partly. But is also encompasses “free-from” ingredient considerations, health concerns, and for some consumers, sustainability and ethical issues.

One thing is clear—product preferences expressed through consumer purchasing patterns have pushed “clean label” from fad to trend and from trend to mainstream.

Mainstream Movement

Nielsen data reveals 93 percent of all U.S. households purchase clean label products at grocery stores. Fully half of all shopping trips now include the purchase of a clean label product.

93% of all U.S. households purchase clean label products The International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) stated in its trend watch that the clean label movement “will reach new heights” in 2018 and beyond as the food system continues to grapple with the exact definition of that term.

As a step along the path towards those new heights, Innova Market Insights recently identified a purchasing pattern that moves clean label along the spectrum to “mindful” eating. While mindful choices can vary depending on the consumer’s generation or income level, “mindfulness” encompasses concepts ranging from health and wellness to sustainability and ethical considerations.

This same Innova data shows that 7 out of 10 U.S. and U.K. consumers want to know and understand ingredient lists. It also says, “At the same time, rising levels of interest in ethical issues have resulted in the use of ethical claims for food and drink new product development soaring in recent years, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 44 percent” over a recent five-year period.

These ethical considerations fall within this newly identified pattern of mindful eating, which embraces:

  • Natural, or use of natural ingredients and the exclusion of artificial ingredients
  • Simple ingredients that are minimally processed
  • Labels with a short list of ingredients, and easy to pronounce ingredients familiar to the purchaser
  • Foods and beverages that promote health and wellness
  • Traceable ingredients, or the “farm-to-fork” supply chain
  • Sustainability when possible out of concern for the environment

Millennial Momentum

While different generations can define clean label a bit differently, one group under particular scrutiny is the Millennial population. Millennials are the new driving force behind new product development and introduction. This generational segment is young and energetic and large— the sheer size of this population segment, coupled with its purchasing power, means it is poised to displace Boomers as the most influential consumer group. Millennials are expected to overtake Boomers in population by 2019, swelling to 73 million in number.1

Millennial shoppers 'organic' quote In the free-from melee, manufacturers have hastened to reformulate products to phase out corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colors and flavors, as well as cut back on gluten and trans fats. As one example, when a manufacturer reformulated its classic hot dog product, the new label showcased the word “no” three separate times to assure consumers these undesirable ingredients were absent from its product.

Market researcher Euromonitor International has its own term for this population segment of educated 20- to 29-year-olds, calling them “Clean Lifers.” These consumers have a “wider world view than previous generations” and strong beliefs. Whatever they embrace, they do it wholeheartedly, a factor that does affect their purchasing. Euromonitor predicts behaviors that fit within this desire for personal health and wellness, including, it says, a tendency towards vegetarianism and/or flexitarianism.

Children and Stealth Health

Of special note, Millennials are becoming parents and transferring their high expectations for their own foods to the foods given to their children. Packaged Facts, in its report, “Food & Beverage Market in the U.S., 9th Edition,” published in 2018, says that Millennial consumers have firm ideas about what they expect from products and brands. For their children, the report says Millennial parents want better-for-you or ‘stealth health’ options in addition to products with all-natural, non-GMO, no/low sugar and “no artificial ingredients” claims, dovetailing perfectly with clean label stipulations.

Yet within the children’s category, product flavors and shapes that capture a child’s imagination are equally as important. Clean labels and healthy products might “sway parents’ purchasing decisions,” says the report, but 55 percent of parents said their children’s preferences and requests are especially important to them.2

Clean Label symbols

Income and Clean Label

Income levels can affect clean label demands as well. Nielsen predicts a “forward movement” of the clean label trend to include consumers under the age of 35 with annual household incomes of more than $100,000 and especially families with children.

Another habit of this population segment— online grocery shopping. FMI and Nielsen began tracking online grocery shopping two years ago and released the second year of its findings for the “Digitally Engaged Food Shopper” in early 2018. In as few as five to seven years, 70 percent of consumers will be grocery shopping online. The pace of change and adoption has far outrun initial predictions.3

In an online experience, shoppers need to rely on the brand’s reputation and/or information gleaned through product views on a computer screen – in other words, the label and ingredient listing.

Stealth or just…Health?

Euromonitor International, when it predicted eight of the most influential ‘megatrends’ to track in the food and beverage industries, said the primary trend is healthy living, impacting most categories and geographies. The number one trend it identified is “back to nature and no to sugar,” or naturally functional, fitting neatly within . the category of clean label foods and beverages.

Another recent study focuses on the health aspects inherent in clean label product purchases. It found that “health” seems to be the main driver, with health defined according to different forms, i.e., healthiness of the product, health claims on the package or health concerns of the consumer.”4

While it might seem easy to the consumer for companies to simplify labels, real concerns about food safety, shelf life, product appearance, texture and primarily taste make formulating clean label products anything but simple.

Clean Label Ingredient Selection

Manufacturers need to find ingredients that are in their natural state or as close to natural as possible, i.e., minimally processed. Then they are needed in the necessary quantity and format to fit industrial processing, while being able to be listed on a label in a recognizable form. Yet these “simple” ingredients need to aid with shelf life, product mouthfeel and texture, appearance, structure and form, and in addition, act synergistically with the other simple, natural ingredients that will provide a successful acceptable and flavorful end product that will experience market success.

One company that conducted in-depth consumer research on consumer views of clean label found that there are three clear areas of consumer expectations; ingredients, nutrition and sustainability. However, a small segment of the population who are keenly interested in the product label regard even some ‘natural’ sweeteners, flavors and colors as undesirable.

Millennials natural flavors quoteAs Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and principal at Corvus Blue, food science research firm, stated in one article, “What is (considered) clean today might not be so tomorrow.”

As ingredient lists continue to get shorter, sometimes packaging mimics the trend as well. Some companies, taking the clean label challenge literally, developed “minimalist packaging” to establish a presence in a market some feel is cluttered with claims and certifications. This simplified packaging can help strengthen brand identity as it cuts back on the callouts and badges, instead focusing on a “clean” label in terms of white space to emphasize the clean and simple ingredients and/or processing of the product within.

In its most recent report, Euromonitor stated a total of 1.2 billion tons of pure commodities were used in one year within food and drink applications, called “the purest of clean label ingredients in that they are widely recognized and generally held in high favor by consumers, e.g., eggs, fruit, nuts, juices, fish, meat, etc.” It estimates the global value of the packaged foods’ clean label category at U.S. $165 billion across 26 markets tracked. The three leading markets within this figure include North America ($67 billion), Europe ($59 billion) and China ($23 billion). The most persuasive claim remains one that says, “all natural” followed by “no artificial ingredients.”

Clean Label CPG Category Value

Clean Label CPG Category Value These ingredients, says The Hartman Group, could help with clean label product sales. Clean, natural and less processed foods, the group said at a conference last fall, are deemed high quality or premium, “in a culture that is increasingly focused on health and wellness.” Consumers expect better ingredients but safe products as well. Ingredients that are healthy, nutritious and sustainable. Millennials are more likely to look for additional confirmation through claims and certifications, such as “organic” or “made with real ingredients.” Ingredients are the most critical amongst these parameters, “with approximately 40 percent of consumers’ perceptions influenced by specific ingredients.” And overall, consumers prefer “recipe-like” ingredient lists.

White Knight

More than one piece of literature discusses the enormous formulation challenges facing manufacturers trying to simplify the label while maintaining appropriate product texture, appearance and taste. While it might sound repetitive by now, there truly are few ingredients found in nature that can offer the wide range of functional benefits supplied by an egg.

20+ functional egg benefits

To learn more, see the 20+ benefits

And in an environment where names matter with consumers seeking recognizable ingredients, the ability to put the word “egg” on an ingredient deck is a big plus. Ubiquitous both in the American diet and in the manufacturing facility, formulators might tend to overlook some of its more unique aspects, including the fact that egg products can supply multiple functional properties within the same application – thereby allowing the formulator to rely on a single ingredient for multiple properties. This can help keep an ingredient deck short and make simple labels more of a realistic possibility. “The supply chain, scalability, machinability, ingredient interaction and proven performance within a wide range of processing environments are all factors formulators need to consider when putting together a short list of ingredients for clean label product development,” said Elisa Maloberti, AEB director of egg product marketing. “Consider how manufacturing has evolved in the past 20 or even 10 years in terms of processing techniques or packaging,” she continued.

Reputation for reliability For a more thorough, indepth look at egg functionality and for annotated pages that detail each functional property individually.

In addition, a series of recently published reports compares and contrasts the performance of egg functionality to that of replacement products, within a wide variety of common products. CuliNex, an independent clean label product development consultancy, in Seattle, confirmed the superior functionality and flavor supplied by egg ingredients in a wide variety of common industry products, such as yellow batter cake, muffins, nougat, frozen waffles, mayonnaise, retort noodles, and more. Overwhelmingly the research found that egg ingredients help create gold standard products with more appealing appearance, texture, aroma and most importantly flavor.

Egg products are available in liquid, frozen and dried forms constituted of whole eggs, egg yolks, egg whites or specialty blended products. For some forms of frozen foods, such as handheld sandwiches or bowls, or for fresh salad preparations, prepared eggs in scrambled or hard-boiled forms also are available from different suppliers. Another major challenge in clean label formulating is maintaining food safety. In terms of ingredient reliability, egg products boast an unbroken safety record spanning more than 40 years, with no recorded outbreaks of salmonella or other food-borne illnesses stemming from egg products since 1975. Since that time, under Congressional mandate, all further processed egg products are pasteurized, and the industry’s safety record remains untarnished through millions of uses in processed food plants nationwide. This includes all further processed forms of egg products to include whole eggs, egg yolks, egg whites and specialty blends in liquid, frozen or dried forms.

When it comes to the egg, less is so much more, for clean label or any other type of product category. This single ingredient can provide wide-ranging functionality, help create a simplified label statement and fulfill customer expectations for flavor, form and appearance. Try egg products for your clean label formulating challenges and watch those challenges simplify along with your label.

Visit the Buyer's Guide at

Gen Z – Digitally Distinct Foodies 5-9

The next, upcoming generation, accounting for 27 percent of the U.S. population (Nielsen data), is Generation Z, or the generation born between 1997 and today. Marketers might believe they can scratch a Millennial and reveal a Gen Z, but that’s where they’re wrong. As NPD reports in Eating Patterns in America, Gen Z brings the term “foodie” to an entirely new level.

As one recent article states, real food is the rallying cry of Generation Z grocery shoppers. And the report says this generation has the potential to be perhaps the most influential when it comes to its impact on consumer eating and drinking habits. Their key demands center on food that fulfills a desire for authenticity, freshness and purity, with the belief that “clean eating improves their quality of life.” Other reports state this generation wants “natural, organic and sustainable,” to support their quest to protect the environment and practice conscious eating. The farm-to-fork movement needs to be transparent and provide authentic information to these digital natives. They’re used to having a wealth of information at their fingertips, whether this involves sharing culinary artistry over Instagram or investigating the supply chain for ingredients included in their favorite food or beverage.

The same NPD report, “Make it Happen for Gen Zs,” declares Gen Z eschews artificial ingredients and prefers foods and beverages with transparent labeling. But keep the label simple: this generation is skeptical of “big brands and too many label claims.” Despite this desire for farm-to-fork transparency and simplified labels, Gen Z also craves convenience and ready-to-eat foods, portable foods that fit into their busy lifestyle—with customization and personalization tossed in as a bonus.


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2. navigating-the-tricky-business-of-developingproducts-for-children

3. view/2018/01/29/fmi-and-nielsen-report-70-ofconsumers-will-be-grocery-shopping-onlineby-2024


5. why-food-manufacturers-should-be-targeting-gen-z

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Made with REAL Eggs