By David Mercer, Associated Press
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Sales of eggs have rebounded after a sharp drop in the weeks following the August recall of 550 million eggs potentially contaminated with salmonella.
The upswing is a relief to egg producers, but industry leaders said they thought sales would return to normal as the recall by two Iowa farms faded from memory. The industry also spent about $1 million on an ad campaign emphasizing its commitment to food safety.
"I think that ad campaign and what we did was really effective," said Jacques Klempf, president of the Jacksonville, Fla.-based Dixie Egg Company, one of the country's largest egg producers. "We hit all the major markets and tried our best to put (out) some science and some reason."
Immediately after the recall, producers were more concerned.
Retail egg sales for the month that ended Sept. 5 were down 9% from mid-summer, before the recall, according to data from SymphonyIRI Group, which tracks sales of food and other products. People bought 108.3 million units — or packages of any kind, including dozen and half-dozen cartons — making it the slowest month in at least two years.
But SymphonyIRI told The Associated Press that by the first of November, sales were back up to 114 million units a month. That's just under sales a year earlier and a little more than sales during the month before the recall.
The egg industry reacted quickly with its ad campaign and other steps to limit what it feared could be a serious problem. The American Egg Board bought full-page ads in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and a couple dozen other newspapers and publications, all emphasizing food safety, said Cindy McGarrigle, a vice president with the Park Ridge, Ill.-based group.
The board also provided a dietitian for interviews about egg safety with radio and TV stations around the country, and it started surveying consumers.