SEYMOUR, Ind. -- A pair of Chicago-area retailers has been testing eggs which are individually imprinted with a "laid on" date, according to the company that developed the product.
Greg Hinton, vice president sales, Rose Acre Farms, based here, said that Dominick's and Aldi were the first to begin carrying the eggs. The dated eggs were sent to a majority of Dominicks' 113 units and Aldi's 59 units, all based in the Chicago area.
Laura McKeough, a category manager for Dominick's, declined to comment on the program, but said the possibility exists that the stores will sell the eggs in the future.
Anthony Schelich, director of purchasing for Aldi, told SN that his chain only carries the Rose Acre Brand and are well aware of the dated eggs being test marketed through its stores. "We know what's going on and we support it," he said.
Certified Grocers of Chicago, which includes Treasure Island Foods, Butera Finer Foods and Sterk's Super Foods, also test marketed the eggs, said Hinton. They continue to carry them.
"[The product] gives the consumers confidence in the eggs that they're buying," said Hinton. "They know how fresh an egg they're getting."
Each egg, stamped with day, month and year in red ink, is similar to the expiration dates found on milk cartons, or more recently, on soda and beer cans. In the case of Rose Acre Farms' eggs, the inkjet date code is applied on the date the egg is laid.
According to Hinton, the company's new method will have a minimal effect on the price of the eggs. "If there would be an up-charge, it would be very minimal, if any," he said.
More than supporting a higher price point, Hinton said the date code serves to reinforce the idea of freshness and the value of purchasing the particular product.
Presently, there is no national law regulating the dating of eggs, said Hinton. There are only a couple of states, like Indiana and Illinois, that impose a strict, 30-day "sell by" law to guard against extended dating.
"Even [in] states that have 30-day laws, its 30 days from the time the egg is processed, [not laid]," he said, noting that these types of eggs may already be several days old before they are processed.
To promote the "laid on" program further, Rose Acre Farms will print on all its carton tops an explanation of the dating process, said Hinton. Due to an increase in consumer calls regarding the dates, Hinton said the information will help answer many of their questions.
In addition to the "laid on" dates and the "sell by" dates that appear on the side of all Rose Acre Farms' egg cartons, the company is also planning to include a "use by" date.
This date, which appears on the side of the carton, will be dated 45 days from the time the egg was laid. It indicates the maximum length of time past the "sell by" date the eggs are considered fresh.
According to Hinton, the "use by" date will be included on all cartons as additional processing equipment is put on line.
Presently, Rose Acre Farms is continuing to roll out its products to other states, including New York, specifically New York City and Buffalo, and eventually, nationwide.
Rose Acre Farms currently has two facilities capable of dating, but due to demand, is planning to convert its other 11 facilities to accommodate the printing. Presently, the company distributes non-"laid on" dated eggs to 42 states.
While Rose Acre Farms may be the only company currently stamping a sell-by date on individual eggs, the process isn't patented. Hinton said that the "laid on" dating technique can't be registered because the terminology used is already part of the public domain.