Designer eggs, latest US trend

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Designer eggs - produced by chickens fed sea kelp, flax seed and
other nutritious ingredients - are becoming increasingly popular in
the US market among health conscious consumers.

Designer eggs now comprise nearly 5 per cent of the $3 billion US egg market. The increased sales come at a time when overall egg prices are at an all-time high following the Exotic Newcastle Disease that thinned chicken flocks last year and lowered production.

On average designer eggs cost about $1 more per dozen than regular eggs, which currently cost $1.44 according to America's United Egg Producers.

Along with kelp and flax seed, chickens that lay low-fat eggs are fed canola oil or other types of non-animal fats. Hens raised on this special diet produce eggs with lower saturated fat that are fortified with omega-3 fatty acid, iodine and vitamin E.

The trend is due in part to the popularity of low-carb diets but also to recent research that suggests eggs are healthier than previously thought when it comes to cholesterol.

Marigold extract can also be added to the chicken's diet to encourage eggs high in lutein, a nutrient that helps maintain the health of the eye.

Eggland's Best Eggs, America's largest producer of designer eggs, has seen a 25 per cent jump in sales in 2003 compared to the previous year.

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