As plant-based protein substitutes continue to gain traction, the American Egg Board says its new certification for products made with real eggs is also seeing increased interest from foodservice and CPG companies.
Phaedra Ruffalo, senior director of market development at the AEB, says eggs are particularly well-suited to a certification seal.
“Consumers recognize the egg as a natural, whole food with high nutritional value,” she says, in an interview with Specialty Food News. “In fact, consumer demand for eggs and egg products has reached its highest levels in 50 years.”
The Made with Real Eggs seal, which was first unveiled last year, was developed in response to increasing consumer demand for clean labeling and transparency, Ruffalo says.
“Consumers want to understand exactly what is in the food they eat, and this was an opportunity to provide a certification seal that would help manufacturers, foodservice providers, and retailers communicate the use of high-quality, authentic ingredients in their products and menu items,” she says.
In a statement last week, the AEB said that burger chain White Castle and convenience-store operator 7-Eleven have both piloted the new seal and found that it encourages repeat purchases.
Ruffalo says the AEB has been in talks with two other quick-service restaurant companies that are considering using the new seal for their egg-based menu items. In addition, the Embassy Suites hotel chain—known for its free, made-to-order breakfast offering—is revamping its breakfast program and is planning to roll out the Made with Real Eggs seal on marketing materials in its restaurant areas, elevators, and in-room flyers at 240 locations in the U.S. this year, according to Ruffalo.
Foodservice companies have been using the seal in marketing materials and as stickers on product packaging, and they plan to begin incorporating the seal onto the packaging itself in the future, she says.
Meanwhile, several CPG companies have begun the process of applying to use the seal, and one large private label supplier has been using the seal on on its shipping boxes for foodservice, Ruffalo says.
“CPGs are interested and are building it into their innovation or renovation plans on the packaging of their products,” she says. “More are projected to be in the marketplace over the next 12 months as packaging is updated.”
Ruffalo says the AEB drew inspiration from other certification programs, including those of the dairy and cotton industries.
Consumers perceive increased value from products made with real eggs, according to AEB research. In a survey of 1,500 consumers conducted last November by Datassential on behalf of the AEB, more than 80 percent of respondents who buy egg products said the Made with Real Eggs seal would positively impact their purchase decision. The survey also found that the seal gave consumers confidence that a manufacturer’s brand was of high quality (82 percent) and that a product would taste better (80 percent).
The national rollout of the Made with Real Eggs certification follows disputes in recent years between makers of animal-based products and new startups that seek to mimic them using plant-based ingredients. Those disputes include opposition by the egg industry to the use of the words “mayo” and “egg” by Just, the maker of Just Mayo and Just Egg.
Ruffalo declined to comment on those disputes.
“As a national commodity marketing checkoff, the AEB is overseen by the USDA and would not have a position on standards of identity,” she says.