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Brown Eggs Out-Number White by Three to Two

23 December 2009

Brown egg layers accounted for around 60 per cent of all the laying hens in 33 countries reporting laying flock statistics to the International Egg Commission (IEC) in 2008, writes Terry Evans for ThePoultrySite.

This 60/40 brown/white split cannot be extrapolated on a worldwide basis primarily because of enormous differences in the data for layer numbers in China. Estimates for that country vary by as much as 1000 million birds, from 1,350 million to around 2,350 million. This difference might be explained as reflecting the size of the commercial flock as against the total for all layers, which would include backyard birds. An indication of how difficult it is to asses the situation in China is given by the official figures for hen egg output in 2007 having been lowered fairly recently from around 26 million tonnes to a little under 22 million tonnes – a cut-back of some four million tonnes or 15 per cent.

However, looking at the IEC data, it would appear that, of the 2.7 billion layers recorded by the 33 countries supplying information about their flocks, some 1.6 billion (59 per cent) were brown eggers, while around 1.1 billion (41 per cent) laid white eggs.

But, on a national basis the splits between brown and white show great variation from 90 per cent or more brown birds in Australia, Austria, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom, to similar percentages of white layers in Canada, Finland, India, Iran, Mexico, Norway, Sweden and the USA.

Do these percentages change much over time? Between 2006 and 2008, brown eggers appear to have gained ground in Argentina, Brazil, China, Columbia, India and the USA. On the other hand, white eggers seem to have become more popular in Belgium, Canada, Iran, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands and Switzerland. However, as with all the data, it must be appreciated that in many instances, the figures are simply best available estimates, and that small changes between years may not be significant or indicative of a change in market demand.

The split between brown- and white-egg layers in percentages and millions of birds in 2008
Source: International Egg Commission's Annual Review
Country Brown (%) White (%) Brown
(millions)
White
(millions)
Argentina 45 55 14.5 17.8
Australia 98 2 13.9 0.3
Austria 95 5 5.0 0.3
Belgium 85 15 7.6 1.3
Brazil 27 73 21.3 57.5
Canada 10 90 2.6 23.4
China 82 18 1,107 243
Columbia 88 12 35.0 4.8
Czech Republic 70 30 7.6 3.2
Denmark 38 62 1.2 2.0
Finland 5 95 0.2 3.1
France 96 4 42.4 1.8
Germany 70 30 27.0 11.6
Greece 80 20 4.2 1.0
Hungary 100 0 4.0 0.0
India 8 92 12.0 138.4
Iran 1 99 0.4 36.6
Ireland 100 0 2.0 0.0
Italy 95 5 53.2 2.8
Japan 40 60 57.0 85.5
Mexico 6 94 7.9 123.2
Netherlands 51 49 15.9 15.2
New Zealand 90 10 3.0 0.3
Norway 5 95 0.1 2.9
Portugal 100 0 6.0 0.0
Slovakia 90 10 5.0 0.6
South Africa 100 0 23.1 0.0
Spain 90 10 36.4 4.0
Sweden 5 95 0.3 5.6
Switzerland 30 70 0.6 1.4
Ukraine 50 50 14.5 14.5
United Kingdom 99 1 28.8 0.3
USA 7 93 14.1 268.5
TOTAL     1,573.8 1,070.9


December 2009



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