Many commissaries are on the protein snack kit bandwagon, but including hard-boiled eggs as a featured component can be an  affordable means of boosting the protein in your fresh grab-and-go products. There are specific marketing techniques and two new product models for hard-boiled eggs that have profitable potential, all of which was recently uncovered by research completed by the American Egg Board.

That research showed that consumers are seeking different protein snack options, and have largely grown weary of bars and shakes. Hard-boiled eggs are poised to fit the bill with their fresh status, trusted nutritional credentials and portable format.

The advantage to using eggs in particular is that they can be marketed alongside other refrigerated single-serve protein snacks, and the opportunity to use them lies across all channels, says John Howeth, senior vice president of foodservice and egg product marketing for the AEB. Hard-boiled eggs’ current packaging and placement stresses convenience more than anything else, but the study found that highlighting the nutritional benefits of them in marketing, merchandising and packaging is key to increasing interest.  And because many commissaries already use hard-boiled eggs, trying out the newly recommended product models will be incredibly easy to execute, Howeth says.

When it comes to marketing, a strategic advantage was found in a gap between when most respondents to the research said they consume protein, and when health professionals recommend that they should. It turns out that the majority of Americans — 70 percent — eat and drink the bulk of their protein at dinner. But dieticians and health organizations like the Egg Nutrition Center recommend spreading consumption throughout the day, with more protein recommended for morning and afternoon snacking, not to mention breakfast.

Centering your merchandising efforts around nutrition instead of convenience is not a difficult shift to make, either. Eggs enjoy the halo effect of being seen as a “real food,” the research found, and as not being processed or high in fat, like many other protein-based snacks now on the market. They’re naturally portable, allowing for consumption throughout the day and on the run. They’re nutrient dense, with only 70 calories and a full six grams of protein per large egg — all very marketable factors with a high potential for profit, considering their low food cost as a commissary ingredient.

The AEB’s research wasn’t just a study; it also included a marketplace packaging audit and consumer focus groups. By and large, the respondents agreed that they would be more interested in and likely to buy hard-boiled eggs as snacks if they came with portability-focused packaging, the addition of flavor, and more overt nutritional benefit communication on labels and branding. Hard-boiled eggs are currently found in two primary formats: two eggs in a snack pack and as a component in multi-ingredient snack boxes. Both of these formats, however, are ripe for innovation — hence the two new product models.

Those models came about after the development of a newly imagined line of products inspired by the audit and focus groups. The concepts were then put through the entire new product development process, including product testing and a portion of the survey that allowed respondents to design their own ideal protein snack box for three different occasions: as a snack, meal replacement, and breakfast. The two resulting prototypes were a two-egg protein snack pack that includes seasoning, and a three-compartment “protein power” snack box featuring a hard-boiled egg, cheese and roasted edamame.

These were the winners in terms of showing the biggest earnings potential, with high purchase intent, uniqueness, frequency and draw. “The increase in both purchase intent and uniqueness is significant,” Howeth says of the results, “as it’s typically an inverse relationship between the two measures. To have both high uniqueness and high purchase intent is considered the sweet spot in new product concept development.”

The AEB found that the eating occasion drives the contents of the ideal protein pack, including the number and types of items to be paired with a hard-boiled egg. Data showed that commissaries can vary and expand the kits they offer, and optimize the number and type of components included. This part of the test was actually designed with commissaries and other nimble food operations in mind, knowing that they have the flexibility to deliver the optimal kit for consumers with other on-hand food and packaging items.


For detailed results of the study and/or more information, contact Elisa Maloberti, director of egg product marketing for the American Egg Board at (847) 296-7043 or via email at To see who produces and distributes pre-cooked and peeled eggs, visit