Canadian egg sector going ‘greener’

Despite a 50% increase in egg production, the environmental footprint of the Canadian egg sector has decreased by almost 50% according to a recent report by Egg Farmers of Canada.

EFC, a national non-profit organisation that manages the supply of eggs, promotes eggs and develops standards for egg farming in Canada, took a hard look at the entire supply chain to see how the whole industry has changed - and where more improvements could be made.

Changes in egg production over 50 years

The comprehensive study, Environmental Footprint of Canadian Eggs: 1962 vs 2012, provides insight into the history of agricultural production in Canada. The aim of the study was to evaluate the cradle-to-farm gate environmental footprint of egg production, and how it has changed over 50 years.

Canadian egg production volumes increased from 434 million dozen to 657 million dozen eggs per year between 1962 and 2012 - an increase of over 50%. Even with this increase, the egg industry's overall environmental footprint decreased for all resource use and emissions indicators considered. Supply chain emissions for egg production were 72% lower for greenhouse gas emissions. Supply chain energy, land and water use were 41%, 81% and 69% lower, the study showed.


Improved efficiencies in egg supply chain

The change in the environmental footprint of Canadian eggs is attributed to a number of factors. These include improved efficiencies in the supply chain activities that support egg production; changes in the composition of feeds sourced for both pullet and egg production; and significant improvements in resource efficiencies, animal health, and productivity at the level of pullet and egg production. These effective, on-going management upgrades have placed the Canadian egg industry at substantially higher levels of efficiency and productivity than several decades ago.

This commitment to effective sustainability practices comes just as Canada has signed on to the Paris Agreement at COP21 in December 2015. Meeting the targets set out in the agreement requires cooperation across sectors, situating Canada as a leader in addressing climate change.

As a next step in its commitment to effective sustainability practices for egg production, EFC has funded a new Research Chair in Sustainability, Dr Nathan Pelletier, at the University of British Columbia's Okanagan Campus.

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