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The branded eggs market, though minuscule when compared to loose eggs, is growing rapidly with consumers becoming more-health conscious and modern retail giving it the required fillip.

The days of loose/unbranded eggs bought from the kirana store in the vicinity seem to be numbered. With consumers seeking more – than just the original nutritional value – from their food items, the loose egg is slowly but steadily giving way to its branded counterpart, which is fortified with proteins (some are even loaded with numerous organic features). 

As compared to around 3.6 billion unbranded eggs eaten every month in India, only around six million branded eggs are consumed. The branded market, though, is growing rapidly – at 20 percent per annum – and some of the cities that are warming up to the segment are Bangalore, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. A number of poultry farmers and poultry breeding companies, including KeggFarms, Vangili Feeds, Suguna Group and SKM Egg Products, have, in fact, witnessed a rise in demand in the branded eggs segment, despite these eggs being priced at a Premium.

Branded Vs Unbranded

Having consumed loose eggs for long, why would consumers shell out more money to buy branded eggs? Probably because of the number of benefits offered by branded eggs in comparison to unbranded ones. Shree Shivkumar, MD, SKM Egg Products, says, “Branded eggs reach consumers in three days from production; they have safe residue levels through controlled feed, and sorted to uniform size and weight. Dirt and crack are quarantined at source, microbiological disinfection is done through UV process and they have no bad odour, thanks to vegetarian feeding.”

Asserting that branding of eggs ensures quality and convenience, B Soundararajan, MD, Suguna Group, says, “We currently offer five varieties of branded eggs – Suguna Active, Heart, Pro, Nutri and Shakti. Branded eggs have got a fillip after the entry of modern retail in India. Suguna maintains exclusive farms to procure eggs. Different eggs are procured from different flocks. Our eggs address the specific needs of the consumer by offering hygiene, quality, nutrition, DHA, selenium and Omega 3 fatty acids.”

V S Manikandan, JMD, Vangili Feeds, a poultry farm based in Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, is also upbeat about the growth potential of the branded eggs segment. “Compared to unbranded/loose eggs, branded eggs are carefully cleaned and enriched with healthy substances, including vitamins, which are 20-40 percent higher than in normal eggs. They also contain organic elements, such as organic selenium and organic chromium, DHA and Omega 3 fattyacids, offering immense health benefits to consumers,” he says.

Pay More, Get More

It is perhaps natural that branded eggs, packed with vitamins and organic elements, should come at a price that is higher than that of loose eggs. One of the reasons for the higher price is the higher cost of the feed. “Branded eggs cost more because value- added eggs are enriched through feed and the feed formulation cost for these eggs is higher than that for ordinary eggs,” says Soundararajan. He adds, “For Suguna Pro, Shakti and Nutri, the company spends 35 percent more towards feed formulation than towards normal table eggs to enrich them with extra protein. For Suguna Active and Heart, the company spends 60 percent more towards food formulation than towards normal eggs.”

Maintaining that branded eggs go through an extensive process, Shivkumar says, “The process involves using imported equipment to grade the eggs as per their size, which eliminates even hairline cracks. The eggs are also passed through ultraviolet rays to treat germs and micro-organisms. We also use vegetarian diet in feed formulation to avoid bad odour. We guarantee the eggs are toxinand residue-free by in-house testing. There is also special packing with the date of production printed on eggs.”

Endorsing the higher price of branded eggs, Shivkumar says, “Logistics and distribution add to the cost of the product. We ensure that breakage during transport is minimal. The eggs are fresh because they are on the shelf in three days from production, clean because they are sorted, graded using imported equipment and with very good traceability, specifying the date of production on the eggs and a bar code on the labels.”

On the same note, Manikandan states, “One of the major reasons for the branded eggs being priced at a premium is the higher production costs, due to the specialised feed given to birds. Marketing, packaging and transportation of these eggs also push up the costs. Enriched and special bird feed contributes to almost 50 percent of the production cost.” 

Branding and Marketing

The growth of this segment, much like that of other sectors, would depend on appropriate branding and marketing, among other things. This especially because making consumers switch from loose eggs to branded eggs won’t be easy, mainly because of the premium they (consumers) have to pay for branded eggs.

Sharing details on how Suguna markets its branded eggs, Soundararajan says, “Suguna branded eggs are sold through professional distributors, who place these eggs in modern retail stores and standalone supermarkets.  

The eggs are being well received by consumers who value the offerings. In southern states and Mumbai, Suguna branded eggs are moving especially well.” According to him, the growth of the branded eggs segment depends on a number of factors – growth of modern retail and self-service supermarkets, the effectiveness of the distribution network and the pricing (affordability to consumers).

Shivkumar says, “We market and advertise through the print and visual media. The product catalogue has all the relevant information, while the label has the details of the product, including the nutrient contents.” Maintaining that the customer response is positive, he says, “In metropolitan cities, the response is encouraging, while in bigger towns, the response is good.”

On Expansion Mode

With the concept of branded eggs gaining currency among consumers, poultry farmers are trying to test newer markets across India. According to Soundararajan, Suguna Group plans to expand to Delhi and Kolkata in the second quarter of the current fiscal.

Expressing confidence in the bright future of branded eggs, Shivkumar says, “The market growth will be in the range of 25-30 percent as per our expectation.”

With Vangili Feeds about to launch its own brand of speciality eggs – Vangili Eggs – in the coming months, Manikandan too is positive about the prospects of this segment. He says, “With Indian consumers gradually becoming very healthconscious and expecting complete nutrition from their food, branded eggs are sure to become the preferred choice for customers.”