Dynamics of global egg trade between 2006 and 2016

Hans-Wilhelm Windhorst – The author is Prof. emeritus and Scientific Director of the Science and Information Centre Sustainable Poultry Production (WING), University of Vechta (Germany).


Part 1 – Analysis at continent and country level

The analysis has two parts. In Part 1, the development of egg exports and imports at continent and country level will be analysed. Part 2 will presents the dynamics of egg trade at the level of Country Development Groups, a model which the author first presented in 2016 at an IEC conference in Warsaw. This model was used in several other publications and it gives a good impression of the roles which the developing, threshold and old industrialised countries play in egg exports and imports.

In May 2018, FAO published a new complete set of data at country and continent level, covering the years from 2014 to 2016. This made it possible to analyze the dynamics and changing spatial patterns of egg trade covering the decade between 2006 and 2016.

Dynamics and changing patterns of global egg trade at continent and country level

To better understand the following analysis, some preliminary remarks are necessary. As shell eggs cannot be deep-frozen and their shelf-life is comparatively short, eggs for direct human consumption are mainly traded only over short distances. This is also true for liquid egg products while egg powder is traded worldwide.
Because of this limiting factor, most of the produced eggs are used domestically. A comparatively small amount of shell eggs is traded in comparison to chicken and pig meat (Table 1). Shell eggs are mainly traded in Europe, chicken and pig meat in Europe and the Americas.

In Table 2, the development of global egg production between 2006 and 2016 is compared with that of egg exports and imports. It reveals that exports and imports of eggs increased much faster than production. In several countries the demand for eggs grew obviously faster than domestic production which made imports necessary. In other countries, production grew faster than demand so that they were able to export the surplus. Figure 1 impressively shows the differences in the absolute growth of egg production and egg exports respectively egg imports.

A detailed analysis of the dynamics in egg exports and imports at continent level shows that in 2006 Europe and Asia contributed over 90% to the trade volumes, with Europe in a dominating position. More than two thirds of the global exports were contributed by European countries and they also imported two thirds of the eggs reaching the world market. All other continents had only small shares in global egg trade (Table 3).

In 2016, the basic pattern had not changed thoroughly but Europe lost between 6% and 7% of its former share. The growing demand for eggs in Asia is reflected in an increase of 5.7% in the continent’s share in egg exports. Imports grew even faster with 13.0%. It is worth mentioning that North America gained shares in exports as well as in imports (Table 4). Figure 2 documents the changing contribution of the continents to global egg trade between 2006 and 2016.

In Table 5, the the leading egg exporting countries in 2006 and 2016 are listed. In 2006, the ten leading countries contributed almost 1 mill. t or 78.4% to the global export volume. Six of the countries were located in Europe, with the Netherlands in an absolute dominating position, sharing 22.5 of the exports, followed by Spain (12.1%) and Germany (7.5%). Three of the ten countries were located in Asia and one in the North America.

In 2016, the composition and the ranking had changed considerably. The Netherlands still ranked in first place but had lost 4.9% of their former share. Turkey which ranked as number 17 in 2006 with an export volume of only 11,990 t, jumped to second place in 2016, exporting 289,400 t, about 277,000 t more than ten years ago. Poland could also expand its exports considerably, ranking in third place, followed by Germany, the USA and Malaysia. The USA was able to double its export volume, a result of the remarkable increase of their production volume. It is worth noting that Spain almost halved its exports and lost 8.2% of the share in 2006. A similar dynamics showed India. The fast increase of the domestic demand resulted in a sharp reduction of the export volume.

The composition and ranking of the ten leading egg importing countries differs considerably from that in exports (Table 6). In 2006, Germany was in an absolutely dominating position, sharing 25.4% of the global import volume. It was followed by Hong Kong and the Czech Republic. The ten leading countries only contributed 48.1% to the global imports, a comparatively low regional concentration when seeing it in relation to exports. This documents that many countries were not able to meet their growing demand by domestic production. Of the ten countries six were located in Europe, two in Asia, one in Africa and one in North America.

Between 2006 and 2016, the global import volume grew by 900,000 t or almost 75%. Germany was still the leading egg importing country with 440,800 t or a share of 20.9%. Despite an increase of 134,000 t, it lost 4.5% of its former share. In second and third place ranked Iraq and the Netherlands. High absolute growth rates also showed Hong Kong, Singapore and the Russian Federation. The remarkable increase of Iraq’s egg imports is an aftermath of the Iraq war which almost completely destroyed the domestic egg industry. The high egg imports of the Netherlands are a result of increased exports to the USA because of the Avian Influenza outbreaks in the Midwest in 2015. Another reason is that Dutch egg farmers own farms in Eastern Germany and send their eggs to the Netherlands. They are counted as “imports” for the Netherlands and “exports” for Germany, even though they may then be re-exported to Germany or further processed and then exported as liquid eggs or egg powder. Both tables document the leading roles of Europe and Asia in world egg trade.

The main results of the first part of this report can be summarized as follows.

  • Only 2.7% of global egg production was traded in 2016. The fact that shell eggs cannot be deep-frozen limits transport distances.
  • Global egg trade grew much faster than production, indicating that many countries were not able to meet the increasing demand by domestic production and the fact that eggs are becoming more and more attractive as a high-value protein source.
  • European and Asian countries dominated global egg trade. In 2016, European countries contributed about 61% to global exports and imports, Asian countries shared 29.1% of the exports and 36.6% of the imports.
  • The regional concentration in egg exports as well as in imports is high. In egg exports, the Netherlands, Turkey and Poland rank in the first three places among the leading exporting countries; Germany, Iraq and the Netherlands in the first three places in egg imports.

Windhorst, H.-W.: The extraordinary dynamics of the Turkish poultry industry. In: Zootecnica International 37 (2015), Nr. 9, S. 26-30.
Windhorst, H.-W.: Spain – Egg sector hit by the financial and economic crisis. In: Zootecnica International 38 (2016a), no. 2, p. 30-33.
Windhorst, H.-W.: Poland – Growing importance of egg exports. In: Zootecnica International 39 (2017b), no, p. 26-29.
Windhorst, H.-W.: A projection of the future dynamics in global egg production. In: Zootecnica International 40 (2018e), no. 7/8, p. 24-26.

FAO database: http://www.fao.org/faostat