Nebraska has 9 million hens, and they produce more than 2.7 billion eggs annually, yet you won’t find many sold by the dozen in the grocery stores. That’s because a vast majority of those 2.7 billion eggs become “further-processed egg products,” according to Susan Joy, former manager of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture Poultry and Egg Division.
Joy explains that further-processed eggs can be found in many everyday food products, from your home pantry to fast food restaurants.
“Further-processed egg products is a fancy way of saying our eggs go into cake and pudding mixes, ice cream and mayonnaise, for example,” Joy says. “These products are used in every aspect of food preparation and consumption, from the home cook to bakeries to the military. The products provide nutrition in space and to children in school cafeterias.”
A National Leader
Nebraska is a national leader in the production of further-processed egg products, based on the work of two major Nebraska companies – Michael Foods Egg Products Company in Wakefield in northeast Nebraska and Henningsen Foods Inc., based in Omaha.
These companies take shell eggs, break them, and then turn the yolks and whites into pasteurized refrigerated liquid, frozen, dried or other specialty products. These products are sold to national and international markets.
“These are labor-saving products and they are safe products, and that’s very important,” Joy says. “Plus, eggs and egg products are packed with the highest quality protein available and are perfect to provide nutrition to countries around the world.”
Diane Sparish, vice president of corporate communication for Michael Foods, says the company is the largest processor of eggs in North America and provides a wide range of products, such as liquid eggs, hard-cooked eggs, dried eggs, and pre-cooked eggs, such as patties, omelets and French toast.
“We provide products to food service, retail and food ingredient customers,” Sparish says, “so value-added eggs produced in Nebraska are likely to be found in foods, baked goods, grocery stores and restaurants across the United States.”
Creating Nebraska Jobs
Joy notes that not only does the Nebraska egg industry serve as an important food source for Nebraska consumers, the industry also supports many jobs in the state, thereby playing a positive role in Nebraska’s overall economy.
Both Michael Foods and Henningsen Foods employ hundreds of people in the eastern part of the state. Michael Foods, for example, employs more than 800 people in Nebraska.
In addition, there are a number of egg farms in Nebraska that provide eggs to Michael Foods and Henningsen Foods, and those farms buy feed ingredients, such as soybeans and corn, from countless other Nebraska farms.
“We purchase corn from Nebraska farmers to feed our hens,” Sparish says. “Michael Foods buys about three and one-half million bushels of corn each year for our companyowned farms. The vast majority of that corn is purchased locally. It’s important to our company to support the communities where our employees live and work.”
In fact, Nebraska egg-laying hens consume more than 8 million bushels of corn and about 70,000 tons of soybean meal annually.
“Our state is extremely fortunate to have these major international egg companies that employ hundreds of people,” Joy says of Michael Foods and Henningsen Foods. “It’s wonderful to have these dynamic companies in Nebraska.”