The trend of raising backyard chickens has certainly helped accommodate a healthier American diet, but it has unintentionally had a detrimental effect on those selling their excess eggs. Because of the overwhelming supply of fresh eggs from backyard flocks and small farms at farmers markets, feed stores and roadside stands, the price of eggs is being kept artificially low.
It’s often hard to sell a dozen eggs for a high enough price to cover the cost of raising chickens—including their feed, supplements and housing—as well as the egg cartons and other packaging. Many times, locally grown eggs are sold for about the same price as eggs found in supermarkets, despite the former being fresher and more nutritious. When you sell your eggs, you’re not only competing against the low grocery-store egg prices but also against other local sellers. Here are some tips to get your eggs to stand out from the crowd without undercutting the sale price.
1. Boost Yolk Color
Eggs from free-range chickens that eat a lot of grass and weeds will naturally have more vibrant yolks and look fresher than store-bought eggs from caged chickens, but you can bump up the wow factor of your chickens’ egg yolks simply by feeding foods high in xyanthophyll, a carotenoid with a naturally orange pigment. Some of these foods include basil, carrots, corn, marigolds, parsley, pumpkin, red cabbage, tomatoes, watermelon and the leaves of most green plants. And if you’re selling at a farmers market or fair, crack a few eggs into a bowl to show potential buyers how great your eggs look.
2. Hand Out Free Samples
If you’ve priced your eggs high and aren’t attracting many buyers at the farmers market, consider putting out a basket of free samples. Allow people to take home an egg to try it for themselves. Hopefully, that will compel more than a few to come back the next week to buy.
3. Provide Nutrition Information
A 2010 study from Penn State shows that chickens raised on pasture may produce more nutritious eggs than chickens that never see the light of day or step foot on grass. Pasture-raised chickens have access to a more diverse diet, including a variety of forages and insects, which can lead to increased levels of vitamins A and E and omega-3 fatty acids. Share this information with your potential customers by printing out a nutritional comparison on cards or handouts.
4. Use Creative Packaging
Make your packaging unique and attractive. Instead of merely packaging your eggs in cartons and stacking them on a farmers market table, why not tie a pretty ribbon or some baker’s twine around the carton and attach an attractive business card? Sending each customer away with your contact information is a must to make it easy for them to locate you when they’re ready to reorder. Consider tucking some fresh flowers or herbs into the ribbon or twine. If you raise breeds that lay colored eggs, use packaging that showcases their diversity.
5. Raise Different Poultry
Chicken eggs can literally be a dime a dozen because of the large supply available, but even those who raise chickens themselves might be interested in trying duck or quail eggs. Duck eggs are larger than chicken eggs and thought to be to be better for baking due to their higher fat content. Quail eggs are considered a delicacy and are often pickled or used by five-star chefs to top burgers or salads due to their diminutive size and relative rarity.
6. Sell Legally
Before selling your eggs, be sure to check your state Department of Agriculture’s egg laws or cottage-food regulations, which will lay out handling and storing requirements, grading guidelines, reuse of cartons, and carton labeling regulations, including the use of such terms as free-range, pasture-raised, vegetarian and organic. These laws vary by state and often by how many eggs you plan to sell. Your local extension service should be able to point you in the right direction to get that information, or you can find it online. You will also need to find out the business-licensing requirements for your municipality before you start selling your eggs.
By using some of these tactics, you should be able to set your eggs apart from the competition and price them higher than you could otherwise. Once most people are made aware of the incredible taste, freshness and nutritional value of backyard eggs, they are more willing to pay a premium for them—and a pretty carton doesn’t hurt.