When it comes to brand evolution, the British egg is no yolk.
Egg sales are booming with Brits expected to eat a whopping 180 million hen eggs over the long Easter weekend.
Sales have been cracking along at a fair pace for a while now, with 2018 expected to be the twelfth year in a row that egg sales have increased, according to figures released by the British Egg Industry Council.
That’s a record that many brands can only look at with envy. There are not many items on the supermarket shelves that have enjoyed such sustained growth, especially when eggs hardly look to have changed since the day the first one was laid.
But that’s where appearances can be deceptive. Not only has the egg itself evolved, but so has the narrative around it.
It was 30 years ago in December 2018 that Edwina Currie lay down the biggest challenge ever to the egg industry, claiming that ‘most’ eggs carried salmonella. As a result, egg sales in the UK plummeted by 60%, with the British Egg Industry Council called her remarks “factually incorrect and highly irresponsible”.
Now, with the UK set to eat 45 million eggs a day over the Easter bank holiday, the egg’s prospects have clearly been turned around. This hasn’t been done without hard work.
After the low point in 1988, successive publicity campaigns attempted to reverse the egg’s fortunes. But the real coup came after 1998 when the Lion Mark Scheme was introduced, guaranteeing that all eggs stamped with the mark are from hens vaccinated against salmonella and all hens, eggs and feed are fully traceable.
Now more than 90% of British eggs are produced under this scheme and there is so much confidence in the safety of eggs that the Foods Standards Agency changed its advice last year, agreeing that those with the Lion Mark were safe for pregnant women and the elderly, even if they weren’t cooked.
And it’s not just the eggs themselves that have changed, so has their story.
Where once they were associated with a greasy fry-up, the egg has managed to evolve its message, now fitting perfectly with the trend for healthier eating. The all-important Millennials have also got the memo, with their dual trends towards eating brunch and packing in protein falling right into egg producers hands.
What’s more, for this most traditional of products, the egg is fast becoming a star of social media, with nearly half of 18 to 24 year old’s who share food photos online making egg dishes part of their portfolio. The British Egg Council isn’t being left behind, with busy YouTube and Instagram accounts showing that eggs are still as relevant as ever.
So let’s enjoy our eggs this Easter – all 180 million of them – and look forward to further twists and turns in their egg-straordinary tale.