Labor-saving, convenient, and on-trend—demand for value-added egg products is growing as formulators and restaurant chains find more than a handful of reasons to fit the various forms of prepared eggs into the manufacturing or food preparation cycle.
Certainly, the pandemic contributed to its recent growth, but even pre-COVID, value-added egg products helped save time and labor while contributing a versatile, familiar, and handy protein to applications from bowls to sandwiches and more.
Prior to the pandemic, there was a tremendous rise in demand for breakfast sandwiches with consumers commuting or traveling looking for handheld convenience and a satisfying, filling meal. In light of COVID, more people are eating and cooking at home. Yet an OnePoll survey conducted for meal subscription service, Sun Basket, suggests that cooking fatigue is setting in and consumers are tired of preparing three meals a day, seven days a week.
Convenient, hearty products that are simple and quick to prepare and/or easy to heat and eat present a popular meal or snack. Egg sandwiches, breakfast bowls, egg bites, and protein boxes all meet the standards for flavor, variety, convenience, and satiation. As a result, there is a lot of innovation in the value-added egg product sector.
The right set of questions can help determine the appropriate value-added egg product that meets your specifications and product goals. The egg processor will have questions for you too, to determine whether an existing product will meet your needs or whether a custom formulation will work better. Here are a half dozen or so questions that will help guide the process.
Q: What exactly are value-added egg products?
Answer: Egg products are available in a multitude of convenient, precooked forms to offer manufacturers flexibility in creating ready-to-heat packaged items that require consistency and portion control. Many types of egg products can be customized to include the addition of other ingredients including herbs, spices, cheeses, and diced vegetables. Sometimes they will contain other ingredients to maintain product quality and assist with freeze-thaw stability. Vegetable choices can include either IQF or if there is a moisture concern, dehydrated varieties. Manufacturers can meet almost any customer specification and screen products to ensure non-GMO or organic compliance for example, or gluten-free additives.
Types of precooked value-added egg products can include:
o Whole, peeled
• Patties (scrambled or fried in various forms)
• Egg bites
• Specialty items
Q: What needs to be considered when formulating a value-added egg product for my retail or foodservice product application?
Answer: There are definitely helpful questions that would determine which value-added egg product will best serve your needs and what additional steps or ingredients will ensure it has the texture, mouthfeel, shelf life, appearance and taste you desire.
• Always formulate with the end consumer in mind—what are your product goals?
• What flavor profile do you want?
• Will the product be presented in fresh, refrigerated or frozen form?
• What is the desired shelf life?
• Does the product need to withstand a freeze-thaw cycle?
• How will the product be served or heated?
• What type of packaging will you be using?
Ingredient choices and treatments differ depending on whether the product is going to be frozen or fresh and refrigerated. As one example, a processor will add a modified food starch to a product that will be frozen to help avoid moisture migration and lend better texture. Or native starches may be used as moisture control aids with IQF vegetables or other ingredient add-ins.
Q: What safety procedures do egg processors follow for value-added egg products?
Answer: All further processed egg products are pasteurized and preparing value-added egg products adds a cooking step or steps, plus a kill step. This makes all value-added egg products safe and ready-to-eat.
Q: What is the anticipated shelf life?
Answer: Value-added egg products offer varying shelf lives depending on whether they are fresh, refrigerated, or frozen, or have additional ingredients added (such as chopped vegetables or dairy products like cheese or cream).
In general, frozen products offer a shelf life of up to one year while fresh, refrigerated products have a shelf life of a few months.
Q: How do value-added egg products help streamline production, whether for manufacturing or foodservice?
Value-added egg products arrive fully cooked without the need to enlist skilled labor for preparation, saving time. Product consistency means that the egg product in each sandwich or bowl will look and taste the same from one to the next.
Value-added egg products are made according to specifications and can be incorporated into automated processing lines, dispensed using a depositor by weight or by unit. This is true for egg patties, omelets, and precooked scrambled eggs.
Q: Can value-added egg ingredients hold up under the rigors of a processing line?
Answer: Yes, frozen egg patties, omelets, and scrambled egg curds hold up well in automated lines.
Refrigerated precooked products can also be used in manufacturing settings either dispensed automatically or hand placed.
General Tips For Sandwich Builds:
• Keep egg patty covered – a thicker biscuit and thinner egg patty help the product heat evenly.
• Avoid egg discoloration from other ingredients by placing the egg on the very bottom of the build, next to the bread or starch component.
• Keep wider components on the bottom and then stack other ingredients on top.
• Stack sandwich with egg as the bottommost layer on top of the bread selection or carbohydrate, or as the second layer on top of a cheese slice to help avoid moisture migration. Then layer other ingredients on top. This stacking method helps make breakfast sandwiches more visually appealing.
• Make sure the sandwich is packaged with a peek of egg protruding outside the edge of the bun or biscuit. Research shows people like to see the egg on their sandwich.
• When using fried egg patties, consumers like to see white with yolk in the center.
• People generally don’t want runny eggs in their breakfast sandwiches, because they get too messy.
General Tips For Burrito/Wrap Builds:
• Refrigerated scrambled egg often works better than IQF product as it avoids tearing or breaking tortillas or other wraps. (Frozen scrambled egg curds can have sharp edges.)
• Burritos made with refrigerated eggs can be frozen after filling and will generally have almost a year’s shelf life.
Hard to Ignore: Hard-Boiled Egg Appeal
Finally, hard-boiled eggs (HBE) have never been more popular. In single or multi-packs with dips, in protein, bistro, or bento boxes, combined with fruit, nuts, cheeses, and more, HBE make a convenient, high-quality, and clean snack.
It is easy to overcook hard-boiled eggs. But egg processors have years of experience preparing hard-boiled eggs to achieve certain levels of doneness and yolk color. They can even cook them, so the yolk is nicely centered instead of settling to one side. There is also a special method of preparing hard-boiled eggs when the intended purpose is to slice them to top a salad, so they are firm and evenly and fully cooked.
This technique, along with many others, is one that egg producers have mastered.
Precooked value-added egg products can streamline product development and production. They’re convenient, consistent, easy, and flavorful—talk to your local egg producer about a customized value-added egg product for your next formulation or new product introduction.
To locate a supplier of value-added egg products, visit the American Egg Board’s Egg Product Buyers’ Guide at www.incredibleegg.org/buyersguide
Elisa Maloberti is director of egg product marketing at the American Egg Board.
About the American Egg Board (AEB)
Home of the Incredible Egg, the AEB is the U.S. egg industry’s national commodity marketing board. The AEB’s mission is to increase demand for eggs and egg products through research, education and promotion.