As an Australian household staple, eggs are an important source of nutrition for the vast majority of people. Australians eat 17 million of them every day and egg farmers work around the clock to supply a range of eggs and egg products to suit everyone.
Egg farms are spread across Australia and farmers sell to a variety of markets, including retailers, wholesalers, food service establishments and food manufacturers. The industry is largely domestic focused and only a very small volume of eggs is exported, mainly to South East Asia.
The egg industry is made up of a diverse range of businesses, from large vertically integrated farms that control rearing, production, grading, packing and transportation, to very small-scale farms that sell to local markets.
There are three main egg farming systems used in Australia: free range, cage and barn-laid (also called cage free). Free range egg production has grown significantly over the last 15 years and now makes up the largest grocery retail segment. However, there remains strong demand for cage and barn-laid eggs as an affordable source of high-quality protein.
Supermarket egg sales by volume (2018)
- Free range 45%
- Cage 44%
- Barn-laid 9%
- Specialist 2%
The industry’s ability to provide consistently high quality eggs from well-run farms is the result of experienced and dedicated farmers who are committed to quality assurance.
Egg Standards of Australia (ESA) is the egg industry’s national quality assurance program and it provides a comprehensive set of compliance standards for farmers to meet.
ESA assists egg businesses to:
- minimise food safety risks;
- achieve high animal welfare standards;
- manage biosecurity risks;
- minimise the risk of eggs being mislabelled; and
- ensure the production and delivery of consistent product.
The comprehensive set of standards was developed in-line with national retailer and regulatory requirements and audits are carried out by independent, third party auditors.
ESA accredited egg farms currently have more than 80 percent of the national flock.