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Dynamics and patterns of global egg processing and trade

When considering global egg production, usually the focus is on table eggs. Yet the share of processed liquid and dried egg products is also considerable. To what extent however, is not fully clear, as ample statistical data are not really at hand. An overview of current production and trade, based on available data.

By Dr Hans-Wilhelm Windhorst, Science and Information Centre for Sustainable Poultry Production (WING), University of Vechta, Germany

In contrast to egg production and egg trade, there are hardly any scientific analyses which deal with the dynamics and patterns of global egg processing and trade with egg products. The reason is the lack of complete and reliable data sets on the volume of egg processing. For several important counties in egg processing there are no data available at all because the national statistical offices do not request and publish such data. The European Egg Processors Association (EEPA) publishes data on trade for members only. In this review, production data are taken from the data set of the International Egg Commission´s (IEC) Annual Review 2013, trade data from the FAO for the year 2011, the latest year for which a complete set is available.

In Table 1, data of the egg products volume of selected IEC (International Egg Commission) member countries is documented. The USA is the leading country in egg processing, followed by Japan, the Netherlands and Germany. One has to consider, however, that the list is incomplete, for egg processing in other countries, for example Mexico, is also important.

Patterns of liquid egg trade
Liquid egg products are mainly traded over comparatively short distances because they are highly perishable. From the data in Table 2 one can easily see that with the exception of the USA, which export to its NAFTA partners and also to Japan, liquid egg products are mainly traded between EU member countries. In 2011, the Netherlands were the leading exporting country with a share of 41.3% of the global trade volume, and Germany the leading importing country with a share of 22.6 % of the global trade with this commodity. The global pattern of liquid egg exports in 2010 and the changes since 2000 are shown in Figure 1. A closer look at the trade flows, as documented in Table 3, shows that over 60% of the Dutch export was targeted at Germany and the United Kingdom. On the other hand, over 88 % of the German imports came from the Netherlands. It is obvious that similar trade relations as with shell eggs have developed over the years between these two neighbouring countries.

Patterns of dried egg trade
The regional pattern of trade with dried egg products differs from that with liquid egg products as can be seen from a comparison of Tables 2 and 4. Dried egg products can be shipped over longer distances and be stored over a longer time period. This explains why the USA, India and Argentina can play a major role in exports. This is also documented in the considerably lower regional concentration in imports compared to liquid egg products. Countries without domestic egg processing purchase egg powder on the global market. The trade is handled by a small number of globally acting agencies and persons. A detailed analysis of the trade flows of US exports and Japanese imports (Table 5) further strengthens the statement of longer distance shipping. Japan is the leading country of destination for US exports, followed by Germany, the number one importing country, and the two NAFTA partners. Japan purchases dried egg products from various countries; they are mainly located in Asia (India and China) and the Americas (USA, Canada, Argentina and Mexico).

Balance of trade
From the data in Table 6 one can easily see that only a few countries show a high surplus in trade with egg products, with the Netherlands in a leading position. This country also dominates global shell egg exports. The highest deficits show Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan. The two EU member countries are also to be found among the leading shell egg importing countries. It is worth mentioning that Germany and the Netherlands are both to be found among the top ten dried egg products exporting and importing countries.

Better understanding
The preceding statistical analysis tried to analyse the patterns of egg processing and trade with egg products on a limited and not always reliable data base. Nevertheless, the basic patterns could be documented, knowing that it is not a complete picture of the recent situation. To better understand the dynamics and patterns of production and trade, we urgently need a more complete and realistic data set, especially for production. This would require the willingness of the leading egg processing companies to co-operate and no longer act as a "closed shop". As a scientist, studying the situation from a peripheral perspective, one often gets the impression, however, that the egg products industry itself is not too much interested in detailed analyses and the publication of comprehensive data sets. The reason may be a very volatile and complex market situation.

More information:


  • Dynamics and patterns of global egg processing and trade
  • Dynamics and patterns of global egg processing and trade
  • Dynamics and patterns of global egg processing and trade

Hans Windhorst

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