Consumers in the U.S. and around the world are showing increased concern about how their food products are sourced including whether vegetable and grain products are free of pesticides and/or made grown without the use of genetic modifications; and if non-genetically modified ingredients are being included in the feed of the poultry and livestock from which their animal foods are derived. These concerned consumers also want to know that the animals were raised and slaughtered under humane conditions.

When it comes to eggs, marketers are responding to these demands by identifying the products that come from cage-free chickens, that have not been given any non-health related antibiotics or growth hormones, and that have been raised on organic and/or non-GMO feed, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts in the brand new report Egg Market Trends and Opportunities in the U.S.

Notably, for example, U.K.-based Happy Egg Co. with its "happy hens" who lay humanely raised free-range eggs established a presence in America in October 2012 and has since expanded from 500 stores to 6,500 stores, including a thriving relationship at Walmart and Costco. Not to be overshadowed, McDonald's announced in September 2015 that it would transition over the next 10 years to sourcing only cage-free eggs for its fast food operations in the U.S. and Canada. At the same time, an increasingly important segment of the egg market is that of organic eggs.

"Not too many years ago organic and cage-free eggs were available almost exclusively from either farm stands, farmers markets or in specialty natural or health food stores. Today they are easily found in mainstream supermarkets," says David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts. Approximately 90% of the eggs sold through retail in the U.S. are from hens kept in industrial settings, referred to as battery cages. This method of egg production is considered by most reasonable standards to be inhumane and, in fact, was banned in Europe at the beginning of 2012 precisely for that reason. In the U.S. the ban does not exist but as mentioned market conditions are generating alternative approaches.

Survey data published in Egg Market Trends and Opportunities in the U.S. reveal that when grocery shopping, 30% of consumers seek out products labeled as "natural" or "high protein, while being organic and having high omega-3 content were sought out by roughly 20% of consumers—all labels increasingly associated with the egg industry. Consumers most likely to seek out organic eggs include young adults (especially those between the ages of 18-24 years old) and Asian-Americans. Packaged Facts data further estimates that well over 90% of U.S. households use eggs, a rate that has remained essentially steady between 2011 and 2015, although the share of households using four or more dozen over the course of a month has increased very slightly over the five-year period. An increase in the practice of eating breakfast at home likely had a slight impact on egg sales as the items consumed at the meal are often heat-and-eat breakfast sandwiches rather than made-from-scratch egg dishes.

Egg Market Trends and Opportunities in the U.S. analyzes the state of the market in the wake of the mid-2015 avian flu epidemic. The report reviews evolving consumer demand for high quality protein, the reemergence of breakfast as the most important meal of the day, breakfast sandwich and "breakfast all day" culinary trends, and the responses in grocery retailing and the foodservice industry to these developments. In addition, the report offers growth projections for egg sales in the U.S. and features the results of an exclusive Packaged Facts national online consumer survey regarding diet, nutrition, and food shopping patterns related to eggs.

Learn more about the report.