Have you noticed that brown eggs often cost more than white? Same size, same type (cage-free or not), and even from the same company. Why is that? Should you pay more for brown eggs?
This question came up for me (again) yesterday at the store as I chose which type of eggs to buy. Reflexively, I reached for the large eggs at eye level. They happened to be brown. Then I noticed that same brand of large white eggs on the lower shelf to the right, where I was less likely to notice them. Those white eggs were 50 cents cheaper. Naturally I put back the brown eggs and picked up the white ones. As I went to the check-out counter, I pondered the pricing and placement of the cheaper eggs where I was less likely to pick them up.
I’ve written about egg myths before. One of those myths is that brown eggs are better than white ones. In fact, brown and white eggs are the same nutritionally and in terms of quality and flavor. If you want to get really persnickety, brown eggs can even have more cholesterol than white eggs, but the difference is not significant.
The color of the egg is simply due to which type of hen lays the egg. Most breeds lay brown eggs. However, the predominant breed of hen used to lay eggs for commercial sale (at least in the U.S.) is the white Leghorn breed, which produces white eggs.
In researching the price differential, I found that state agricultural services and the USDA attribute the higher cost of brown eggs to the size of the fact that the chickens that lay them are larger and therefore cost more to house and feed.
Is that the only reason? Some people believe (erroneously) that brown eggs are better than white. If people think brown eggs are better, won’t they pay more for them than white eggs? And doesn’t that consumer willingness to pay more factor into the price?
What do you think?