As consumers continue to seek more and varied forms of protein, hard-boiled eggs are appearing in portable snack packs. Sometimes they are simply peeled and ready to eat. Other times they come with crunchy, savory or even sweet sides.
For the 52-week period ended June 17, 2017, Nielsen data show that in the first half of 2017, unit retail sales of hard-boiled eggs were already more than three-fourths (82%) of 2016 total volume. The category is expected to continue at this accelerated rate the rest of the year.
The segment is valued at $83 million. It grew at a rate of 30% in the multi-outlet channel and 14% in the natural channel, according to SPINS/I.R.I. data for the 52-weeks ended April 16, 2017, provided by Organic Valley, La Farge, Wis.
Recognizing this opportunity, just in time for the back-to-school season, the cooperative is introducing Good to Go Hard-Boiled Eggs. Each single-serve pack contains two peeled, ready-to-eat organic, free-range eggs.
Hard-boiled eggs also are experiencing a resurgence in food service. In schools, they are now approved for inclusion in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Smart Snacks program. With assistance from the American Egg Board (A.E.B.), Chicago, they are being promoted as part of protein boxes, bistro boxes and bento boxes at schools and as part of salad bars.
Innovative recipe ideas include EggPops. Operators simply take a hard-boiled egg, insert a stick and dust with savory spices. Another option is to let the students prepare their own by dipping the egg in spicy or herbed sauces. EggPops may be offered for breakfast, as grab-and-go snacks, or paired with fruit and whole grains for lunch.
EggPops pair well with almost any type of sauce from ranch dressing to remoulade, horseradish to honey mustard and jalapeno to sweet Thai chili, according to A.E.B.’s research. For EggPop ideas, click here.
Chefs and culinary professionals across the country are exploring upscale EggPops recipes. Chef Paul Sletten of Abreo, Rockford, Ill., recently developed a range of recipes for A.E.B. Appetizer concepts include parmesan-encrusted pops served with marinara for dipping. There’s also tempura batter-coated and fried eggs served with Asian condiments.
Building on the popular chicken-and-waffle pairing, Mr. Sletten serves a waffle crumb-coated hard-boiled egg on top of a mini waffle. Fried chicken skins are on the side and the whole thing gets maple aioli drizzle.
“The demand for protein continues to remain strong — and hard-boiled eggs are a natural fit for fresh grab-and-go items because of their innate portability and affordability,” said John Howeth, A.E.B.’s senior vice-president of market development. “Through extensive consumer research on hard-boiled eggs as part of protein packs, we found eating occasions determined what contents people desired, including number of items and makeup of those items. As an example, for a snack occasion with a hard-boiled egg — meat and cheese were the favorite pairings, followed by fruits and vegetables.”