A new day for eggs in the U.S.

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Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse.

By themselves, or as a key ingredient in other foods, eggs represent a delicious and critical part of the American diet. Eggs’ popularity is not limited to the United States, though. They are a much beloved staple in diets around the world.

Eggs are also a major economic driver across the United States — especially in Iowa. In the Hawkeye State alone, there are more than 30 egg producing companies accounting for around $2-billion in sales, over 8,500 jobs and more than $23-million in tax revenue going back to the state.

Significantly, these impressive figures are almost entirely from sales within the United States. In fact, less than five percent of the country’s shell eggs are exported.

Increasingly, U.S. egg producers are looking to find new customers and open new markets outside the U.S. as they fill the growing global demand for eggs. After all, 96 percent of the world’s population lives outside the United States.

The American Egg Board, a commodity marketing board tasked with increasing the demand for U.S. eggs and egg products through research, education and marketing programs, is also expanding to support its industry. In fact, for the first time in its history, AEB has deemed exports a key strategic priority. Going forward, the American Egg Board, in cooperation with its export marketing partner, the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), will proactively support the development of new markets outside the United States — where great opportunities for growth exist.

AEB has already hit the ground running. Late this past summer, we had the honor of leading the first-ever, egg-only trade mission to Mexico where representatives from the U.S. egg industry engaged with Mexican egg industry leaders, U.S. trade and diplomatic leaders and end users and producers of egg products, including Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest industrial bakery.

Weeks later, we were thrilled to join the historic, first-of-its-kind, multi-commodity trade visit to Cuba since the U.S. began normalizing relations with the country earlier in 2016. Both trade missions represent the vibrant efforts of egg farmers to reach markets beyond their borders.

Earlier this month, American shell eggs were shipped — for the first time by air — to South Korea after that country lifted its import restrictions in response to their devastating bird flu outbreak, similar to the severe outbreak the U.S. experienced in the recent past and from which we’ve fully recovered. As a result, U.S. shell eggs are now available in Korea.

In 2017, the American Egg Board is prioritizing its efforts to support egg exports, including sharing quick response information to producers stepping in to fill the void when unfortunate outbreaks occur, as well as developing innovative promotional programs involving research, best practices demonstrations and marketing materials.

Through it all, one thing is clear — the appeal of the Incredible Edible Egg™ is universal.

• Anne Alonzo is President and CEO of the American Egg Board. Blair Van Zetten is the Producer Chairman of the American Egg Board and President of Oskaloosa Food Products Corporation in Oskaloosa.

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