Egg Supply Chain

In a few weeks you will start seeing quite a few sales on eggs. Why? Eggs are one of the main staples in the Easter holiday tradition. Everyone gets together the night before Easter and colors their eggs a wide range of colors to put in their Easter baskets for the Easter Bunny to hide. An egg seems like such a simple food item, very few people ever wonder what all had to happen in order for them to be able to buy their eggs from the grocery store. If there were suddenly no eggs to color for Easter I am sure everyone would then want to know. If it even possible to think that the grocery stores would have no eggs? The answer is yes!
In order for that carton of eggs to be on the shelf of the store it must travel the supply chain. A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Supply chain activities transform natural resources, raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to the end customer. Egg would seem like such a simple product that there really couldn’t be that much to the supply chain given that the chicken lays the eggs, the farmers puts them in cartons and a truck delivers them to the store.
Eggs don’t go through processing like most other food products but still there can be a lot to them depending on what type of eggs you buy and where from. Many people still get theirs from the grocery stores but a rising trend is to purchase them farmers markets or directly from the farmer. Going directly to the farmer for your eggs is becoming more popular because people want to know where their food is coming from and want to know that the animals are not being mistreated or given hormones.

In order to discuss the supply chain for eggs one must first ask the questions,Which came first the egg or the chicken? When you attempt to do a supply chain for eggs this is without a doubt the first question you would need to ask. Did the farmer get the egg first and then hatch the chickens to lay more eggs to sell or did he get the chicken first who then laid the eggs? For this paper we are going to assume that the chicken came first. So the first step in the egg supply chain is the hatchery no matter where you get your eggs the process started in the hatchery.
Due to the rising trend of going straight to farmer for goods, we are going to look at the supply chain for eggs purchased directly from the farmer. Also this is how I get my eggs so I thought it would be more interesting, of course the eggs I get come from my aunt so there is not much to them aside from the gas used to drive to her farm and pick them up. Her chicks came from a friend who raised chickens but for those farmers who do not have friends or neighbors who raise chickens they would go to a hatchery.
Hatcheries are found all over. There are quite a few in Ohio alone, a major one is found in the Cincinnati area. Once the farmer gets his peeps from the hatchery they are placed in a chicken coup which has access to a pasture for the chickens to graze. Chickens eat a wide variety of things but mostly are fed corn or other vegetables already found on the farm. Chickens that are allowed to graze produce better quality eggs due to the fact that they get more nutrients from the ground than those chickens raised in cages.
The next step in the supply chain once you have the chickens and they lay the eggs is to gather and package them for sale. Eggs are usually gathered on a plastic tray and then washed and sanitized then stored in a refrigerator. Many co-op farms that you buy from have you bring your own container for your eggs, this saves them money and also the environment if you reuse the same carton. Most people just bring a carton from store bought eggs. The egg carton was invented in 1911 to help keep a farmer’s eggs from breaking while delivering.
Egg cartons come in a variety of forms from Styrofoam to molded pulp and paper. You can even buy plastic storage containers for eggs that can reused again and again. One of major suppliers of egg cartons to small farms is a company called Eggcartons. com. They do not produce the egg cartons themselves but rather buy them in large quantity then sell in smaller quantity to farmers. Once the eggs are packaged they are ready for sale whether to a local farmer market or directly to the customer who visits the farm. Farm raised eggs there seems to not be too much competition out there.
Very few farms do this and the ones that do are spaced a good ways apart, also the fact that the small farms cannot produce as much as the bigger companies limits them on what they can sell anyhow. The only major issue that could impact the supply chain for a local farmer is to lose his chickens or for them to fall ill and not be able to produce enough eggs to meet demand. Some interesting facts on eggs are according to National Egg Producer Organization ( I am not making this up, the group exists) Ohio is the number 2 egg producer in the United States, second to only Iowa.
In 2008, over 209. 1 million cases of eggs were produced in the United States and of that 209. 1 million 68 million cases (32. 2%) were further processed (for foodservice, manufacturing, retail and export); 121. 7 million cases (58. 2%) went on to retail; 18 million cases (9%) went for foodservices use; and 1. 4 million (0. 7%) were exported. (http://www. unitedegg. org/useggindustry_generalstats. aspx) The Supply Chain Diagram {draw:frame} {draw:frame} {draw:frame} {draw:frame} {draw:frame} {draw:frame}

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