The Netherlands is a major producer of eggs and egg products. The majority of this production, about two thirds, is exported.
The production of eggs requests full attention of the egg farmer. Egg producers own and manage nearly every aspect of their business e.g., rearing of birds, feeding, housing, husbandry, and marketing of their product. They are capable of meticulously monitoring the entire process.
Good uniformity and condition of the hens, as well as management and monitoring of climate-, feeding- and lighting conditions are key success factors for achieving a high laying percentage and good quality eggs. A uniform flock of sufficient weight gives the best chance of eggs of the right weight at the start of the laying period and is easier to manage. Careful grading and packaging is the final lap to the delivery of a quality product to the customer.
The Netherlands is a major producer of eggs and egg products, with the majority of production being exported. Manufacturers are specialized in the complete process of egg production, grading, packing and processing. The processing of egg products includes breaking eggs, filtering, mixing, stabilizing, blending, pasteurizing, cooling, freezing or drying, and packaging.
Dutch supermarkets only sell eggs produced according to Dutch quality regulations. Under this quality scheme all eggs are stamped with a code identifying the farm where they were produced, so they can be traced back to the farm of origin. The quality and food safety is constantly safeguarded in all the links in the chain through strict legislation, monitoring programmes and inspections. The Dutch poultry sector, civil society organisations and the supermarkets consult together about the quality policy.
The average egg consumption per person reached 188 eggs per capita in 2011, illustrating the importance of eggs in the Dutch diet. The average number of layer hens amounted to 32.7 million hens in 2011, while the number of layer farms totalled 1,061. Egg production in 2011 reached absolute record levels in the history of the Dutch egg production sector numbering 10.6 billion eggs.
Exports of eggs from the Netherlands for consumption and egg products (calculated as table eggs) totaled 9.77 billion eggs in 2011, while imports were about 2.4 billion eggs. The sales structure of the Dutch egg sector is illustrated in the chart below.
Source: Product Board for Poultry and Eggs