Eggland's Best expands new-product test

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Eggland's Best is expanding its test of a new product line aimed at boosting egg sales among time-pressed consumers.

The franchisor of patented "nutritionally superior" eggs is expanding markets for its Eggs & More Entree Kits, cartons that include eggs plus all the ingredients to make quick, easy meals such as eggs Benedict and egg sandwiches.

Under an agreement with franchisee Herbruck Poultry Ranch, Eggland's Best tested the four-kit line in Grand Rapids, Mich., during the past year. Due to consumer interest in the product, Herbruck will expand distribution to Chicago-area retailers including Treasure Island for three months. Other franchisees in Connecticut and elsewhere will also test the products in select stores.

"Egg sales have gone down over the years due to concerns over health, specifically cholesterol, and because people are more interested in convenience," said Charles Lanktree, president-CEO of Eggland's Best. Eggs & More feature Eggland's Best eggs, which offer lower cholesterol, less saturated fat and additional vitamin E and Omega 3 fatty acids than regular eggs. The product positioning and the addition of ingredients on-the-go consumers need for a variety of meals is intended to address those issues and reverse the trend, he said.

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Mr. Lanktree said the Eggs & More kits will be able to do for eggs what salad kits have done for lettuce: offer a way to move out of a commoditized category and into the more profitable value-added, convenience arena.

Although marketing in the test areas will consist primarily of in-store promotions, retailer ads and demonstrations, Eggland's Best plans to support the eventual national launch of Eggs & More with TV, radio and newspaper inserts, said Bob Van, sales and marketing manager of Herbruck. The date of that national rollout has yet to be determined.

"We're taking it step by step, testing to prove that the cost, benefits and payouts are worth it before putting together a national program," Mr. Lanktree said.

Eggland's Best spent $1.8 million on its egg brands in 1999, per Competitive Media Reporting. The company handles its advertising in-house and uses packaging designer Dixon & Parcels Associates, New York.

The line includes a two-serving Ham & Cheese Omelette kit, which includes four eggs, ham and cheese for $1.99; four-serving Eggs Benedict kits, which include four eggs, hollandaise sauce, Canadian bacon and English muffins for $3.99; four-serving Egg Sandwich kits, which include English muffins, four eggs, cheese and Canadian bacon for $3.99; and two-serving Deviled Egg/Egg Salad kits, which include eight hard-boiled eggs, a honey-mustard/mayonnaise mix and spices for $2.99.

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