Serving as CEO of Egg Farmers of Canada for the past fifteen years has been the honour of a lifetime. I’m proud to work for farming families across our country, through great successes and challenging moments. We reached exciting new heights together—in egg sales and in new programming—while also being vocal advocates for the farm families we represent and our fellow Canadians who rely on fresh, affordable eggs.
You can find all of these successes and more in our newly released 2018 Annual Report. Here are five key highlights from the report I’d like to bring to your attention:
1. Keep an eye out for the Egg Quality Assurance mark
We’ve spent decades building, implementing and strengthening quality assurance standards in egg farming. Today, those standards are world-class. Our national Animal Care Program reflects farmers’ commitment to caring for the health of their hens. Likewise, our Start Clean-Stay Clean® program ensures that Canadian eggs are safe and nutritious. These standards matter: 90% of Canadians trust the quality standards for food from Canadian farms. Now, Canadian consumers will have a new visual way to recognize made-in-Canada eggs produced to the highest standards—food they trust.
This year we introduced the Egg Quality Assurance™ (EQA) program. It’s a mark that will appear on egg cartons, certifying that your eggs have met the highest standards of Egg Farmers of Canada’s Start Clean-Stay Clean® and Animal Care programs. EQA is your assurance that no matter what type of egg you choose, they’re fresh, local, high-quality eggs produced by Canadian farmers.
2. 12 years of growth
We hit a stunning milestone last year. 2018 marked a dozen years of consecutive growth for the Canadian egg industry. And, our indicators tell us that demand for eggs and egg products will only continue to grow. In fact, we anticipate accelerated growth this year as a result of increasingly positive consumer views of eggs’ health benefits, growth opportunities in the hot breakfast business and sustained promotional activity at the retail level. The evidence is clear: Canadians love made-in-Canada eggs! And it seems that love continues to grow, with new reasons to choose eggs emerging all the time.
3. Strong progress on farms
Year after year, we’ve improved our on-farm operations for the betterment of farmers and Canadians. 2018 was no different.
We continued work on redeveloping the national Animal Care Program, based on the requirements of the updated Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pullets and Laying Hens. The new program will rollout in 2020.
Meanwhile, an in-depth review of our Start Clean-Stay Clean® program led to the implementation of a new process that strengthens our overall commitment to food safety.
We’ve also made significant progress in our national housing transition, moving away from conventional hen housing towards alternative housing systems. In 2016, 82% of Canadian eggs were produced in conventional housing—today, that number is 71%. These are tangible steps towards our goal of moving away from conventional housing in Canada by 2036.
4. A year defined by trade
Trade talks took up a lot of our time last year. Canada and its North American trade partners renegotiated NAFTA, forming the newly minted Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement. Canada also entered the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal with partners in the Pacific region. Egg Farmers of Canada followed the negotiations closely—alongside our fellow supply-managed partners—advocating for the interests of egg farmers. While supply management remains in place, domestic markets opened for more imports of foreign eggs. This is a disappointing outcome to say the least—especially for young farmers, who will live with the consequences of these concessions. But we now know the rules of the new agreements and can focus on creating strategies and programs to mitigate the impact.
5. Building trust between farmers and Canadians
I’ve written in the past that the bedrock of our success is trust. Trust—between our industry, our farming families and the Canadians we serve—is essential. Without it, we simply could not do business. Everything we did in 2018—everything we’ve done for decades—has been centered in building trust by showing the utmost regard for our communities, our environment and our society. This work reflects our mission: to position the Canadian egg industry as a leader in Canada’s agricultural future through sustainable growth, continuous improvement and social responsibility.
This is only a taste of what we worked on in 2018. If you want all the details, be sure to check out our full 2018 Annual Report by clicking here.