Canadian Poultry Magazine

One Hundred and Fifteen Thousand Miles of Eggs

By Canadian Poultry   

Features 100th anniversary Key Developments Business/Policy

April 1928

Someone has figured that if the eggs laid in Canada in 1927 were placed end to end they would girdle the universe four and one half times.  It certainly staggers the imagination to comprehend over three billion eggs or 115,000 miles of them.  And these are the farm eggs only.  Dear knows, how many more thousands of miles should be added for the eggs laid in poultry houses in the cities and suburban areas in Canada but the number must be considerable.  All of them, whether from farm or city, disappear down the national gullet at the rate of 6,000 per minute.  The rate is of course much faster at meal times for these figures are on a 24-hour basis.  Still there are not enough to satisfy the national appetite and some eggs have to be imported into Canada.

Canadians are the greatest egg-eaters on the face of the globe and consumption has been increasing tremendously since egg-grading regulations came into force.  It is estimated that Canadians now consume something like 337 eggs per capita per annum.  Production of farm eggs in 1927 equaled 320 eggs per capita.  While production is increasing rapidly, principally through the breeding of better hens rather than increasing at a still more rapid rate as indicated by the excess of imports over exports of eggs.

Canada imported roughly three and one-quarter million dozen eggs in 1927 and exported less than half a million dozen.  Excess of imports over exports rose by a million dozen over the previous year.  Those are figures on eggs in the shell.  Eggs other than in the shell or n.o.p. as they are shown in trade statistics are also imported into Canada in some volume especially in recent years. Most of the eggs in this class come form China and the total amount imported in 1927 to slightly over two million pounds, compared with one point three (1.3) million pounds in the previous year.


The unfavorable trade balance resulting from excess of imports over exports of eggs amounted to roughly $1,700,000 in 1927.  This is an increase over 1926 of upwards of a million dollars.  Considered by themselves these figures may appear large but they fade way by comparison with a farm egg production in 1927 of over 253 million dozen valued at over $80,000,000.  The long and short of it is that Canada just barely failed to meet her egg requirements last year by three and one-half in-the-shell per capita to which must be added the importations of preserved eggs amounting to perhaps two eggs per capita.  Domestic egg production failed to meet the national appetite therefore roughly by one-half dozen per capita – a trifling amount it is true but the shortage is increasing.

What is the outlook?  Can Canada meet her own egg requirements in the future?  Can she regain her lost export trade in eggs?  In regard to the first of these questions, farm egg production is increasing very rapidly in fact there has been a gain of fifty per cent since 1921.  In the same time the number of hens, etc on Canadian farms has increased by only 35 per cent showing that the production per hen has increased considerably since 1921 due to the rearing of better birds for egg production.  The process of weeding out undesirable birds and substituting hens of proven high production layers seems to have borne excellent results in the past year, an increase of 6.8 per cent in production being recorded for 1927 over 1926 while the number of hens, etc in farm flocks increased by only one–eighth of one per cent.  Even without increasing the farm flocks the industrious biddies of 1927 just about kept up with increasing population and the increasing appetite of Canadian for eggs.  There is still room for very great improvement in the farm flocks from the egg production standpoint but the process cannot go on indefinitely and the farm flocks must eventually be increase to keep up domestic supplies of eggs if consumption per capita goes on climbing.

What of the export market?  Back in 1902 Canada exported over eleven million dozen of eggs to Great Britain.  The favorable trade balance from the egg trade in that year, even with eggs valued at fifteen cents per dozen, amounted to over $1,500,000.  During the intervening twenty-five years Canada has been alternately an exporter and an importer of eggs.  Exports dwindled away from 1902 to 1908 and from 1909 to 1013 there was a well-defined trend the other way.  In 1913 Canada imported over thirteen million dozen eggs and exports were practically nil.  Imports then dropped off an the balance of trade reverted to Canada’s favor during the years 1916 to 1918; in 1920 and 1921 the egg trade was peculiar in that Canada was exporting roundly six million dozen eggs per annum but importing a similar quantity.  From 1922 imports have exceeded exports the difference decreasing to 1925 but increasing since.

If Canada had the eggs, she could no doubt find a market for them in Great Britain, says the Department of the Interior, through its Natural Resources Intelligence service.  In fact the market for her surplus eggs ahs always been there but since 1902 the exportation surplus has never amounted to much.  But just imagine the magnitude of the market in the United Kingdom and what can be done with poultry in Canada if prices were attractive.  The United Kingdom spent over $90,000,000 a year on imported eggs in 1925 and 1926.  The Imperial Economic Committee reports that requirements from home and Empire sources are 5,700 million eggs a year or 475 million dozen – nearly twice Canada’s farm egg production – this with a consumption of only 125 eggs per capita.  The system of uniform grading and government certification to which they have been subjected has enabled Canada’s eggs to command a premium over all other eggs on the British market.  If enough of them were to be had, John Bull might contest Jack Canuck’s title to champion egg-eater of the world.  But as it is only five out of every thousand eggs consumed in Great Britain, according to last reports, came from Canada.  The United Kingdom itself supplies 433; Irish Free State, 95: China 138; Denmark, 121; Russia, 47; Netherlands, 35; Poland, 22; Egypt, 22 Belgium, 21.  South Africa supplies five and Australia three so that Canada does not rank behind the other British Dominions but what a big thing it might be for Canada if she could get a big slice of this egg trade and especially if consumption per capita increases as it has in Canada.

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