Aurora Magazine

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Working on Egg Appeal

What are the challenges for branded eggs in Pakistan?
Updated 16 May, 2023 03:15pm

For a very long time, Pakistani consumers had to make do with pale-looking scrambled eggs every morning, as the eggs that were available at the time had yellow yolks rather than vibrant orange ones. Furthermore, these eggs were never particularly clean and sometimes they were sold past their expiry date – and because of the lack of expiry date labels, consumers only found out about this after they had cracked the eggs. These issues, however, have been addressed (especially among urban consumers), as over the past 15 years, several egg brands have entered the market – all of which provide eggs that are clean, have expiry dates and come with orange yolks thanks to increased fortification.

The first brand to be introduced in Pakistan is Farm Fresh, which entered the market in 2007. The company is a subsidiary of Wahdat Farms, which has farms in Sargodha, as well as a strong distribution network that ensures the product’s presence in 15 cities, including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Sukkur and Sargodha. Farm Fresh eggs come in three variants – Classic (priced at Rs 285 for a dozen), Golden which are Vitamin A, D and selenium-enriched (Rs 330) and Omega 3 (Rs 360). For context, non-branded eggs are priced at approximately Rs 240 per dozen.

Next came Appie Eggs (under the parent company Sind Feed) in 2016. Their distribution is limited to Karachi and they come in five variants: Classic Eggs (Rs 280 per dozen), Extra Large (Rs 285), Vitamin D (Rs 295), Omega (Rs 370), and Desi (Rs 400).

The latest entrant was Egg Box in 2021. The brand is part of the Mehmood Group which has commercial interests in leather tanneries and textile mills. (The Group was established in 1935.) The eggs are available in most cities and come in three variants: Simply Eggs (Rs 290), Vita White Eggs (Rs 322) and Omega 3 (Rs 360). Other egg brands worth mentioning are SB Eggs, Happy Hen Eggs, OK Eggs and Menu Eggs.

To understand more about this emerging category, Aurora spoke to the three established brands.

The first thing to come to light is the fact that the overall egg market is growing at a pace of 9.5% annually (source: Statista, 2023). According to the Economic Survey of Pakistan (2022), Pakistan produced 21 billion eggs in the last fiscal year, although according to the Pakistan Poultry Association 2021 Report, the country’s annual per capita consumption of eggs is relatively low and stands at 56 compared to developed markets where consumption averages 300. Furthermore, branded eggs in Pakistan account for a mere three to five percent of the market. Within the branded category, Farm Fresh and Egg Box claim a national market share of 70% and 30-35% respectively, and Appie a 33% share, but within Karachi.

Ansir Mukhtar, Assistant Marketing Manager, Farm Fresh Eggs, estimates that “the total egg category is valued at Rs 220 billion per annum, with a production of 22 billion eggs. This includes a 26% share of desi (brown) eggs and 74% share of white eggs.”

The obvious USP for branded eggs is the fact that they are more nutritious compared to unbranded ones, primarily because all the processes, from egg laying to distribution, are overseen by the companies that produce the eggs. As Mukhtar says, “The concept of one entity maintaining farms, managing bird feed in line with international standards, investing in R&D, fortifying eggs, collecting and packaging eggs, and delivering them to retailers across the country was unheard of until we entered the market.”

In the opinion of Tahir Jatthol, GM, Marketing and Sales, Egg Box, “Managing on a year-round basis, the basic issues associated with the product – be it temperature sensitivity, perishability, breakability and then ensuring steady supplies, are some of the value additions brands like ours are able to provide.”

Fortification of eggs begins with managing the feed given to the hens before the eggs have been conceived, and then providing a temperature-controlled environment to ensure that their quality has not been compromised when the eggs are distributed to the retail points.

The colour of the yolk is an indication of the purity of the feed given, which is a blend of Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin A-rich food, such as flax seeds. Unfortunately, many small poultry farms bypass these expensive options and says Jatthol, “they simply add orange dye to the cheap, inorganic bird feed.”

Most branded eggs come in Styrofoam packaging, with the exception of Egg Box. Jatthol says they are the first egg brand in the market to introduce corrugated cardboard packaging, which guarantees constant ventilation and temperature management compared to the standard PET and Styrofoam packaging solutions that absorb heat and raise the temperature of the eggs by two to three degrees and which can compromise the nutritional value of the egg.

The challenge for branded eggs is of course to increase market share. They are 20 to 60% more expensive than unbranded ones and in a market where consumption is relatively low – one of the reasons being (apart from price) that many Pakistanis think of eggs as garam (hot) and prefer to consume them in winter. As a result, branded eggs prefer to target health-conscious consumers as well as elderly people with health issues – and within SECs A and B, as these consumers can afford the premium prices.

In terms of promotion, most brands rely mainly on digital as well as on YouTube series led by nutritionists or doctors. For example, Farm Fresh publishes a series called Nutritionist Ki Baatein on YouTube. Egg Box runs a ‘myth-busting series’ whereby nutritionists address widely held myths such as “eating eggs causes acne”. They also produce a series promoting the alternative medicinal benefits of eggs, and how they can improve skin and hair health. The brand also launched a recipe book Yeh Koi Aam Recipe Book Nahin, containing egg-based recipes aimed at combatting the notion that eggs are essentially breakfast items. According to Jatthol, Egg Box was the first brand to put an egg on a billboard – and in the month of April – in a bid to overcome the perception that eggs are winter products. Egg Box also claims to be the first to have run a dedicated integrated marketing campaign – including outdoor, print, activations, and social media. As for Appie, Muhammad Zohaib Azam, Head of Customer Services and Promotion, Appie Farms, says that their campaign ‘Appie Happy Pakistan’ (which runs on social media), aims to spread awareness about Vitamin D deficiency as a way to increase egg consumption.

Despite these challenges, be it low consumption, high prices and a general lack of awareness about the benefits of eating branded eggs, the category is optimistic that the market will grow steadily, especially due to the awareness efforts undertaken. The overall goal is to increase the category’s size by promoting eggs as an essential part of every Pakistani’s daily diet. In fact, Mukhtar is confident that the market share of branded eggs will double or even triple in the next five years.