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Cracking the Canadian cuisine calendar

As Canada’s egg industry celebrates 10 consecutive years of growth, let’s take a moment to look at the special times of the year when Canadians are enjoying the natural goodness of eggs.

From planning a long weekend brunch full of poached perfection to baking a heaping helping of holiday treats, there sure are certain times of the year when Canadians stock up on more than the usual amount of nutritious eggs. What better way to make a celebration even more delicious than with these versatile little wonders?

Even though extra eggs end up in our shopping carts now and again, do we ever notice when and why this is? Egg Farmers of Canada Director of Marketing and Nutrition, Bonnie Cohen, offers plenty of insight into not only the most popular times of the year for Canadians to buy eggs, but why we’ve all been embracing eggs more and more over the last decade.

What times of year do you tend to see a spike in egg sales?

Christmas and Easter—no question about that. These are times of year when people get together—they bake, and they cook a lot more. Interestingly, there are egg sale spikes on long weekends as well. The extra day is an opportunity to get together with their family, and to make a big breakfast with plenty of eggs!

To what would you attribute the overall growth of egg sales in Canada?

We look closely at retail egg sales to understand trends in our market. In 2005, we put all of our marketing programs on hold—we didn’t go on TV and we really stopped doing any promotion—to take a step back and look at the strategies we were working with and conduct consumer research.

It became very clear that we were actually not investing in the right places. We started to focus on consumer research to understand attitudes towards eggs—why consumers buy more of them or less of them.

What were the key learnings for you?

In 2006, part of the problem that we had with eggs was cholesterol. People had the impression that dietary cholesterol was bad, and they weren’t eating eggs because of it. The real a-ha moment came when we learned who was telling consumers to limit their egg consumption. As it turned out, many family physicians were suggesting to their patients to limit eggs—not their cardiologists or even their dietitians.

We learned that the first thing that would happen when people were diagnosed with high cholesterol would be that their doctors would say “stop eating eggs.” As a result, we spent eight or nine years going into doctor’s offices one by one to talk about the real science behind cholesterol. They were really open to it, and what we learned from doctors was that consumers really wanted permission to eat eggs, and the doctors needed the science to give that permission, so we gave doctors the latest research.

What we also learned from our research was that the people who weren’t concerned about cholesterol wanted to hear about protein and the nutritional benefits of eggs. At the time we were talking about versatility quite a bit, but really, what consumers wanted to hear about was nutrition because it was becoming more and more important to them.

Our research helps us understand where there are openings to educate consumers. For example, we learned that there is a significant opportunity to help the public understand just what makes an egg naturally good. Lately, we are working towards helping more Canadians understand that there are no added hormones or steroids in eggs, and that each egg contains 6 grams of protein, vitamins and iron.

Where do you see egg sale trends heading in the next 10 years?

We’ll continue to build on our success while furthering our understanding of the consumer and why they purchase what they do. The hope is that we build on the positive image that eggs have gotten over the last few years.

Every year, we look to see what’s new, what’s happening out there, and what the trends are. Natural is going to stay around for a bit, I think.

If one thing is certain, it’s that Canada’s love for eggs is stronger than ever.