Celebrating Innovation on National Egg Day

Paul Montgomery

Paul Montgomery

Director of Communications, United Egg Producers

Johns Creek, GA

  • Advanced Animal Systems

The Egg Industry Is Continually Advancing

Eggs are one of the best dietary sources of high-quality protein, with one large egg packaging 70 calories, six grams of protein and many other essential nutrients in one. As we celebrate National Egg Month and approach National Egg Day on Saturday, June 3, we would be remiss not to discuss this superfood and how the egg industry is advancing.

United Egg Producers (UEP) is a Capper-Volstead cooperative of U.S. farmers working collaboratively to address legislative, regulatory and advocacy issues impacting egg production–through active farmer-member leadership, a unified voice, and partnership across the agriculture community. As one of the egg industry’s advocates, UEP has worked to enhance animal welfare and is involved in discussions regarding male chick culling to develop scalable solutions to the in-ovo sexing technology challenge.

Many eggs on rows of shelves in a hatchery

Eggs in a hatchery, courtesy of United Egg Producers

The Search For Scalable In-Ovo Sexing Technology

Despite years of research and millions of dollars, the egg industry has not been able to develop scalable in-ovo sexing technology. The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase food and agricultural research investments to advance the USDA’s research agendas that support American agriculture. In 2019, FFAR and Open Philanthropy brought industry stakeholders together and established the Egg-Tech Prize. In a two-phase awarding format, the Egg-Tech Prize offers more than $6 million to organizations, groups or individuals to progress technology that determines a chick’s sex before hatching. Phase I has been undertaken, with six organizations receiving over $2 million in seed money to facilitate promising in-ovo sexing technologies. Phase II has been initiated and offers a multimillion-dollar prize for anyone who successfully develops a technology that meets the criteria of scalable in-ovo sexing technology.

many brown eggs on a conveyor belt backlit by a light and a blue gloved hand reaching out toward them

Candling eggs can help monitor embryo development and weight loss rate.
Courtesy of United Egg Producers

Industry Partnerships Advance Solutions

While incredible advancements have been made in meeting expectations regarding egg sexing technology, a current method that meets the food safety, ethical standards and scalable solutions in the U.S. is not yet available, and there has not been a winner of Phase II of the Egg-Tech Prize. Still, this innovative approach to advancing in-ovo technologies is proving fruitful, and we hope a solution is on the horizon. Numerous technologies are being used worldwide, but the proposed solutions have drawbacks preventing global adoption. Through industry partnership under the Egg-Tech Prize, we are closer than ever to finding a scalable technology that will enhance animal welfare and reduce the number of eggs that are lost after incubation.

Over the last 50 years, advancements in many aspects of U.S. egg production have led to a reduced environmental footprint, enhanced on-farm biosecurity, improvements in hen welfare, and accounts for over 100,000 jobs to families nationwide. The egg industry is committed to continuous improvement through innovation and technology, and National Egg Day signifies how far we’ve come and how much further we must go. UEP proudly celebrates initiatives like Egg-Tech Prize on National Egg Day as we look to the bright future of the U.S. egg industry!

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