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September 12-13, 2022 | Paris, France
FAT 2018

Organic egg production in the USA

Yusuf Leonard Henuk, Speaker at Keynote Speaker at Fat 2018- Yusuf Leonard Henuk
University of Sumatera Utara (USU), Indonesia
Title : Organic egg production in the USA


Eggs are one of the cheapest and most commonly consumed commodity in human nutrition. They are rich in high-quality protein, vitamins and trace minerals. Egg quality is very important for consumers. Hence, egg quality can be used as reference promotional strategy in global marketing. The term “Organic” refers to the way livestock and agricultural products are raised and processed avoiding the use of chemicals and pesticides. Since the USDA implemented the National Organic Program (NOP) in 2002, the growth of organic food market increased as much as 20% annually with organic poultry products. Organic livestock husbandry practices focus on living conditions that allow natural animal behaviors and provide outdoor access. Moreover, the use of antibiotics and other drugs is strictly regulated. Additionally, birds raised in organic system are fed organic feed and pasture raised without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides only. Egg yield and quality parameters can be affected by the rearing system. Different husbandry systems are available in commercial egg production such as cage, free range, and furnished cage. The cage system is the most common. However, it’s been a controversial subject among advocates for animal welfare and animal rights. As consequence, the EU banned battery cage husbandry of chickens in January 2012 for welfare reasons. In the USA, battery cages are also banned in few states, i.e. California in 2008, Michigan in 2009, and Ohio in 2010. Oregon also banned battery cages in 2011 and set for a transition to enriched colony cages, doubling the space per egg-laying hen. Still approximately 95% of eggs in the USA were produced in battery cages. Cage-free shell egg production accounted for 9.9% of the current table egg layer flock (30.0 million hens). Of this, 4.5% are organic (13.5 million hens) and 5.5% are cagefree (16.6 million hens). Currently, the top ten egg (table and hatching) producing states (ranked by number of layers represented in thousands) in the USA are: (1) Iowa – 45,459; (2) Ohio – 32,604; (3) Indiana – 28,437; (4) Pennsylvania – 25,841; (5) Texas – 19,302; (6) Georgia – 18,773; (7) North Carolina – 14,459; (8) Arkansas – 13,375; (9) Michigan – 12,951; and (10) California – 11,870. Among these states, the highest organic poultry-producers were California, Pennsylvania, and Nebraska. Commercial organic poultry production in the USA is raised under intensive, large-scale conditions similar to those in the conventional industry. However, producing organic food tends to be costlier along every part of the supply chain — including farming practices that usually require greater labor inputs and segregating organic ingredients from conventional ones. Organic eggs, milk and salad greens can cost upwards of 60% more than conventional alternatives, while items like apples, carrots, granola and spinach carry premiums of between 7 and 30%. Although there may be logical reasons for the heftier price tag, does it really make sense as a consumer to pay more for organic food? In a survey conducted by Synovate for Whole Foods Market Inc. In the USA in 2004, for example, consumers ranked their rationale for 21 Sep. 2018, Friday - 09:40 Page 86 Food Science, Agronomy and Technology Euro-Global Conference on FAT 2018 purchasing organics as being environmentally friendly, locally produced, healthier, high quality, and better tasting. From an economic point of view, consumers are willing to pay more for organically produced eggs compared to conventional ones. The comparison of egg prices of a dozen large white eggs between organic price vs conventional price in the eight top suppermarkets in the USA as follows: (1) Safeway ($4.99 vs $4.39); (2) Amazon Fresh ($5.69 vs $3.59); (3) Peapod ($4.89 vs $ 3.29); (4) Fresh Direct ($5.49 vs $3.19); (5) Whole Foods ($3.99 vs $2.29); (6) Walmart ($4.68 vs $2.68); (7) Price Chopper ($4.49 vs $2.49); and (8) Harris Teeter ($6.49 vs $2.19). In other countries like the UK, for example, hens in enriched colony systems account for 52% of the total throughput whilst organic or free range eggs account for 43% of the total. Furthermore, of the total Australian hen production about 43 million dozen free-range eggs are sold in supermarket each year, from which 34 % are organic free-range eggs from hens housed in sheds with access to outdoor range and similar to the USA these speciality eggs are sold higher than the conventional cage eggs ($ 4.99 vs. $ 3.59). In conclusion, organic poultry in the USA are raised according to the USDA NOP livestock requirements in 2002. Organic eggs produced by n organic cage-free hens have long been a more expensive choice compared with conventional eggs from hens raised in cages. There is no influence of housing environment (organic or cage) on nutritive value of eggs. Organic eggs are heavier in egg weight and ß-carotene levels were also higher in organic eggs which may have contributed to the darker colored yolks compared to the cage eggs. Eggs from an organic production did have higher levels of total fat than eggs produced by caged hens, but they did not have higher levels of cholesterol. Consumers ranked their rationale for purchasing organics as being are environmentally friendly, locally produced, healthier, high quality, and better tasting and they attribute those characteristics to the following: (1) fertile eggs are more nutritious than infertile eggs; (2) brown shell eggs are more nutritious than white shell eggs, or vice versa; (3) an egg with a deep yellow yolk colour is higher in nutritive value than those of a lighter shade; and (4) organic free-range eggs are higher in nutritive value than eggs from cages. Although a tasting panel indicated a preference for oganic free-range eggs when they were fresh and they could see what they were eating, blindfolded they could not tell the difference between those produced on range or in cages. But none of the tests carried out by Department of Catering and Domestic Studies, Stafford College of Further Education, showed a statistically significant difference in preference. Thus, the preference for eggs laid by hens kept on organic free range or eggs laid by hens kept in cages is still a matter of debate within consumers.


Yusuf Leonard Henuk is a Professor in the Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture at University of Sumatera Utara (USU), Medan, North Sumatera, Indonesia. He received a Bachelor’s degree (S1: ‘Sarjana’) from the Faculty of Animal Science, the University of Nusa Cendana from 1980-1984. He obtained Master in Rural Science (M.Rur.Sc.) from the University of New England from 1991 – 1995 and continued Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) from the University of Queensland from 1998 – 2001. He participated in the courses of “Arabic Language” and mainly “Poultry Production and Health” from 15 January – 31 March 2008 organized by the Egyptian International Centre for Agriculture (EICA), Cairo, Egypt. He was a twice Visiting Professor to the Department of Poultry Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, USA (September – December 2010 & 2017). Prof. Henuk was a prolific writer and has published many articles in international journal and mainly poultry science, e.g. World’s Poultry Science Journal as well as international scientific meetings as such as 1st International Conference on Native Chicken (“Invited Speaker”: Khon Kaen-Thailand, 23-25-02-2015); 5th International Conference on Sustainable Animal Agriculture for Developing Countries (“Invited Speaker”: Pattaya,27-30-10-2015); The 37th Malaysian Society of Animal Production (MSAP) Annual Conference (“Plenary Speaker”: Hatten Hotel, Mallaca,1-3-6-2016); The 1st International Conference on Tropical Animal Science and Production (“Invited Speaker”: Ambassador Hotel, Bangkok, July 26-29, 2016; 25th World Poultry Congress) (“Invited Speaker”: China National Convention Center, Beijing, 05 – 09 September, 2016); The 3rd Animal Production International Seminar & The 3rd ASEAN Regional Conference on Animal Production 3rd APIS & 3rd ARCAP (“Keynote Speaker”: Royal Orchids Garden Hotel, Batu Malang, Indonesia, 19-21 October 2016); 2nd International Conference on Plant Science & Physiology (“Keynote Speaker”: Avani Atrium Hotel Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand, 26-27 June 2017); 8th International Conference on Animal Health and Veterinary Medicine (“Keynote Speaker”: Park Inn by Radisson, October 20-21, 2017, Toronto, Canada); 6th World Waterfowl Conference (“Oral Presenter”: October 22–25, 2017, Howard Civil Service International House, Taipei, Taiwan); 3rd International Conference on Veterinary & Livestock (“Keynote Speaker”: Avani Atrium Hotel Bangkok, November 02-03, 2017 Bangkok, Thailand); 9th Global Veterinary Summit (“Keynote Speaker”: Hampton Inn Tropicana, November 16-17, 2017, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA); and Euro-Global Conference on Food Science, Agronomy and Technology (FAT) (“Keynote Speaker”: September 20-22, 2018 at Rome, Italy).