Egg industry gets ready for Easter

MIDDLETOWN — Mike Puglisi anticipates about a 25 percent increase in egg sales as Easter nears.

The Puglisi Egg Farms owner said the holiday definitely helps demand, but has dropped over the years.

“It’s not as much as it once was,” Mr. Puglisi said. “People do less coloring of eggs these days.

“(Easter) definitely helps demand, though.”

To meet the projected sales increase, Mr. Puglisi said flock rotations are adjusted to have enough eggs on shelves when customers arrive, typically beginning the first weekend in April.

There’s an array of varieties to choose from and customers have a multitude of preferences.

“Personally, I eat regular commodity eggs,” Mr. Puglisi said. “If I had a choice, which of course I do, I would have a good old fashioned white egg.”

At Byler’s west of Dover on Rose Valley School Road, there’s no appreciable rise in egg sales around Easter.

“We don’t see a huge amount of change in volume,” General Manager Matt Pennell said. “It might be because the prices have been ticking up a little bit.

“That fluctuates up and down and I don’t believe it has anything to do with Easter.”

Jumbo egg prices go for $1.49 per dozen, while medium browns are 99 cents for the same amount.

“I don’t know where they’re getting bought at,” Mr. Pennell said. “We don’t say ‘Oh we’re selling a tremendous amount of eggs’ around the Easter season,

“There are those who come in and buy them by the case, but we also see a lot of Amish traffic and larger families may have a good use for them.”

The Puglisi farm at 1881 Middle Neck Road has operated since 1950, and Mr. Puglisi is a second-generation owner. A second Puglisi farm is located in Howell, New Jersey.

Based on past experience, the time between the end of September and Jan. 1 is the busiest time for sales. “It’s more sustained,” he said. “It’s the holiday season, people are having Christmas parties and doing more baking, there’s just more demand for a longer period of time,”

Why are eggs important at Easter?

“It’s not found in the Bible, but tradition notes a connection with new birth and equate it with the resurrection of Christ,” said Ken Clippen, president of the National Association of Egg Farmers.

Based on a 2012 Agriculture Census, Delaware ranked No. 38 nationally for layer hens. “As a small state, between our commercial operations and the backyard flock owners who are selling at local farmers’ markets and to a smaller customer base, the egg supply is meeting what Delawareans are seeking,” Delaware Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Stacey Hofman said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, hens can typically lay an egg once every 25 hours.

Easter egg safety

According to the Unites States Department of Agriculture, here are some safety tips for Easter eggs:

Dyeing eggs: After hard cooking eggs, dye them and return them to the refrigerator within two hours. If eggs are to be eaten, use a food-safe coloring. As with all foods, persons dyeing the eggs should wash their hands before handling the eggs.

Decorations: One Easter bread recipe is decorated with dyed, cooked eggs in the braided bread. After baking, serve within two hours or refrigerate and use within three to four days.

Blowing out eggshells: Because some raw eggs may contain Salmonella, you must use caution when blowing out the contents to hollow out the shell for decorating, such as for Ukrainian Easter eggs. Use only eggs that have been kept refrigerated and are uncracked. To destroy bacteria that may be present on the surface of the egg, wash the egg in hot water and then rinse in a solution of one teaspoon liquid chlorine bleach per half cup of water. After blowing out the egg, refrigerate the contents and use within two to four days.

Hunting Eggs: We do not recommend using hard cooked eggs that have been lying on the ground, because they can pick up bacteria, especially if the shells are cracked. If the shells crack, bacteria could contaminate the inside. Eggs should be hidden in places that are protected from dirt, moisture, pets, and other sources of bacteria. The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should not exceed two hours. The “found” eggs must be washed, re-refrigerated and eaten within seven days of cooking.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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