When getting into selling eggs as a business there are many details to consider such as egg sizes, packaging, labeling, and storage requirements. Each state has specific laws about these factors as well. It is essential to do your research both to learn best practices and to protect yourself from liability. In Ohio, Chapter 925 of the Revised Code outlines the regulations we must follow. Please note that the laws in your state may be different so this is meant only as a general guide; do your research on your own state’s laws. I found the Ohio code by simply searching online for “Ohio law egg sales.”
Egg Sizes: To Separate or Not?
The make-up of your flock will determine how much variety you will get in egg sizes. Because we have purposely chosen several breeds of chicken for color variation and because we have several generations of chickens at different ages, we get a wide range of egg sizes. Large producers with a uniform flock, often choose to measure and separate their eggs by size. The USDA classifies eggs into six sizes based on their weight:
|Size||Minimum net weight/dozen|
|Extra Large||27 ounces|
In Ohio, you may choose to separate your egg sizes or not, but you must label them appropriately. If they are mixed, you simply put MIXED SIZE. The same is true of grading. If you don’t want to worry about determining which USDA grade your eggs fall into, you may simply put UNGRADED or UNCLASSIFIED on your label. Because our customers have told us that part of the appeal of our eggs is their visual variety, we have chosen to simply package mixed dozens and label them: Mixed Size, Unclassified.
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Other Labeling Requirements
Besides egg sizes and classes, there are a few other elements that are required to be on your label (per Ohio law):
- Your name and location as the vendor of the eggs.
- How many eggs are in the carton.
- When the eggs were packaged. (For us this is the same as the date they were laid; we use a simple date stamp to stamp the labels before affixing them to the cartons.)
You’ll see our label also includes our website, a statement about the kind of food we feed our birds, our logo, a photo of the eggs to highlight their variety of colors, and the “Ohio Proud” logo to indicate we are a local producer. Ohio Proud is a marketing program developed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture to support Ohio farmers and to help Ohio consumers find local products. You pay a small annual fee to be an official vendor; it’s an inexpensive way to get your name out there and to be listed on a database of local farmers for potential customers to find you. Check if your state has a program like it!
Packaging: Let’s Talk About Cartons
Whether you sell your eggs directly from the farm, at farmers markets or to a grocery store, you’ll need something to put them in. When looking for egg cartons, consider how sturdy they are and how you plan to label them. We knew we wanted paper cartons (vs Styrofoam) so they’d be recyclable. I looked and looked for a carton with a solid top, which would provide more versatility in the kind of label you could stick to it, but in the end, the most cost-effective option which was also sturdy enough to prevent a lot of egg breakage had a divided top. We found a company here in Ohio called Falcon Packaging that makes cartons. Initially, we were purchasing them on Amazon, but when we discovered they were close we contacted them directly and saved a lot by picking them up ourselves. Though there are loads of online options, look for a local supplier and you may find yourself saving money and supporting other local businesses!
Once we had our cartons, I finalized the label size. We use a water bottle label from OnlineLabels.com (OL5950), which covers most of the top of an egg carton and sticks pretty well to paper cartons with just a bit of Elmer’s Glue. I designed the label using Word. They also offer a free design tool called Maestro.
Storing Eggs for Sale or Distribution
I have been asked the question many times: do eggs need to be refrigerated and washed? The egg laws also outline requirements about storage. If you are selling or distributing eggs, the answer is yes they must be kept at a temperature no higher than 45 degrees, which means refrigeration. Generally, we have found customers expect to receive clean eggs. Farm fresh eggs are lovely but people in the grocery store don’t necessarily want the mud, chicken poop, and feathers of the farm in their fridges!
Hopefully, you will have no problem selling your eggs and can keep your stock fresh. We try to never have eggs that are more than a week old. If, however, you get behind and your stock is mixed up in the fridge, there are egg freshness tests you can employ to check how old your eggs are. We have made it a habit to collect, wash, record, package, label, and refrigerate our eggs each evening. That way we know the eggs are being labeled correctly and refrigerated promptly.
Though there are a lot of pieces to consider when starting an egg business, it is worth the effort involved. We love our chickens and they also now provide us with some extra income.