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VIV ASIA - Seminar Explores Ways to Boost Egg Intake

by 5m Editor
12 March 2009, at 3:36pm

THAILAND - 'Miracle of Eggs' was a seminar held at the VIV Asia show in Bangkok today. Its main aim was to find ways to increase egg consumption in Thailand, writes Jackie Linden, editor of ThePoultrySite.

'Miracle of Eggs - safe, healthy and how to increase the market demand' was the title of a seminar held earlier today at the VIV Asia 2009 show in Bangkok, Thailand.

The very well attended event was introduced by the President of the Animal Husbandry Association of Thailand, who explained that the aim of the meeting was to help boost egg consumption in Thailand. Annual per-capita consumption currently stands at 150 eggs – a long way behind the US and Japan, where the figure is more than 300 eggs. Raising annual consumption to 200 eggs per person in Thailand would not only give a welcome boost to the local egg industry, and increase the flock from the current 40 million to 70 million birds and there would be health benefits for the population too, he explained.

Eat more eggs for health!

The first presentation was by Dr Korapat, a medical doctor working in the Social medicine department at Samutsakhan General Hospital. The title of his paper was, 'Egg consumption decreases blood cholesterol'. It is generally believed in Thailand (and elsewhere) that the consumption of eggs is linked to cardiovascular disease. As a result, some people avoid eggs and many who eat eggs discard the yolk, which is where the cholesterol is found.

However, Dr Korapat said there is no scientific evidence of a link between egg consumption and cardiovascular disease. In fact, the incidence of cardiovascular disease is particularly low in Japan, which has the highest per-capita egg consumption in the world. He went on to present further evidence from trials in Thailand that an intake of around 10 eggs per week stops malnutrition in children, and lowers blood cholesterol and LDL ('bad' fat) and raises the level of HDL ('good' fat) in young adults and the elderly.

Not only do eggs provide protein and essential fatty acids, they also contain vital vitamins and minerals, he said.

Modern methods make for safe eggs

Poultry production expert, Dr Seksom, explained how the egg industry has developed dramatically over the last 40 years or so into a modern industry, run by professionals, producing high quality eggs efficiently from uniform flocks.

He went on to explain the quality attributes of eggs and how they are measured, and emphasised that quality control needs to continue beyond the hen house and the farm gate, all the way to the consumer. Eggs must be kept clean, dry, cool and protected to prevent thee entry of Salmonella and other bacteria and maintain freshness as long as possible.

Dr Seksom said that improving egg quality would help the Thai industry to develop further.

Promoting egg quality through marketing

Finally, Mr Narong of the Association of Hen Egg Farmers, Traders and Exporters shared is experiences of marketing with the audience.

He explained how the destruction of ten million hens in the avian flu crisis in Thailand in 2003-2004 had the benefits of raising the standards of biosecurity on farms, and increasing efficiency. One key point, he felt, is to develop a cool chain from the hen house to the consumer, which would help to prolong the freshness of the eggs.

The supply chain could be better controlled with internationally recognised procedures for food items, such as GMP and HACCP. A system of traceability - for example, by stamping eggs with the farm of origin and date of lay - would help boost consumer confidence, he said.

Another successful strategy in other countries is branding of eggs, and clean and attractive protective packaging plays an important role in this. These aspects are even more critical to develop speciality products, be they for health (with additional omega-3 fatty acids, iodine or selenium) or for niche markets, such as organic or free-range eggs.

Currently, the Thai market is fairly evenly spilt between wholesale (mostly selling through traditional markets) and the growth sectors of retailing (24 per cent), food service (15 per cent) and processing (just one per cent).

Conclusions

In summary, the speakers agreed that is is most important to get the message through to consumers via doctors and general promotion that eggs are a healthy and nutritious food. Further keys to success will be branding, quality assurance throughout the supply chain and improved logistics.

Dr Seksom emphasised that while the earlier focus had been on production, this should now shift to consumers and their demands. A programme of increasing eggs in school meals would help to educate the next generation about the nutritional value of eggs, as well as helping to boost per-capita consumption to the target of 200 eggs per year within a short period.

The seminar 'The Miracle of Eggs' was jointly organised by the Association of Hen Egg Farmers, Traders and Exporters, the Animal Husbandry Association of Thailand, the Layer Farmer Association, the Thai Veterinary Medical Association under Royal Patronage and the Animal Health Products Association.