The government is set to withdraw warnings about cholesterol. According to the Washington Post, those dietary guidelines that we all know and love, the ones that provide rules for school lunches and nutrition advice and the same guidelines that tell us to limit our cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams a day are about to see a big change that could whip up business for the egg industry.
If we were writing a blockbuster movie about the egg industry – just bear with me – the villain would be cholesterol.
“It certainly has been an issue that has been on every single agenda, topic for every single meeting we’ve had in egg industry over the last 30 years,” says Kevin Burkum, a senior vice president of the American Egg Board. “Cholesterol is really the reason the American Egg Board was invented,” he says.
In 1976, there was an egg crisis. American’s consumption of eggs had plunged from around 400 eggs a year in the 1940s to about half that a few decades later, and egg producers were concerned.
Phil Lempert, editor of Supermarketguru.com, says the industry still hasn’t completely recovered: “Fast forward to 2012, and it’s down to 250 eggs.”
After years of mixed messages about nutrition, even if the government does publish new guidelines extolling the virtues of eggs, it could be tough to persuade consumers that the product is actually considered healthy again, Lempert says.
“Because what we’ve seen before – whether it’s about obesity, or heart disease, or cholesterol, or sodium or sugar – is lots of confusion. This message has to be really clear,” he says.
And heard, says Mark Cotter, CEO of the Food Group, a food marketing firm. If the government publishes new dietary guidelines they probably won’t have much affect on their own, he says.
“To be quite frank, the understanding of the dietary guidelines, in terms of awareness, is under 10 percent – in the country,” he says.
It’s up to the egg industry, says Cotter, to sell itself. Last year, egg sales increased by half a billion dollars, according to Burkum. Consumers, he says, are already embracing the egg.
“The incredible edible egg – even more incredible,” he says.