Are plants to blame for egg industry losses?

Cal-Maine Foods is blaming plants for recent losses. Here’s the real deal.
Broken egg

Cal-Maine Foods, one of the largest egg companies in the United States, recently reported a loss of $74 million

The price of their stock plunged, and their CEO Dolph Baker claims he knows what to blame:


That’s right. The CEO of this huge egg supplier blamed plant-based egg replacers such as flax seed and silken tofu for his company’s massive losses. 

We are excited about all the work in this space. Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg is not only available at Amazon, but also via Walmart.comJust Scramble has loads of foodies super-excited, too. However, given that egg production in the United States was the highest it has been 20 years in 2017, we doubt Mr. Baker’s claim that plant-based eggs caused Cal-Maine’s losses. In 2015, an avian flu decimated egg laying flocks across the country. So what probably accounts for their huge losses is overshooting the correction to this downturn in supply, leading to an oversupply of eggs on the market. 

What the latest devastating disease and subsequent oversupply does show is just how fragile and volatile the egg market is (the market also regularly faces massive recalls because of contamination). These issues are all the more reason to take animals out of the equation. Making the foods we need right from plants gives us a safer and much more robust food supply that isn’t vulnerable to the next disease outbreak. Plant-based and clean technologies also don’t require the profligate use of antibiotics, which drives antibiotic resistance that is already killing tens of thousands of people every year

Instead of blaming cleaner and healthier options for their bad business, Mr. Baker and the rest of the egg industry should follow the lead of TysonCargillMaple Leaf Foods, and PHW Group, and actually invest in these better options. It isn’t just small firms and start-ups working to fill this space; agribusiness Archer Daniels Midland is continuing to market plant-based egg alternatives. Innovation is also accelerating in the EU and UK as more companies and investors urge a move to plant-based products. This transformation will be better for their bottom line and for all our futures.

To learn more about GFI’s work to create a healthy, humane, and sustainable food supply, click here