Production is underway at a new egg-breaking plant in a former Alpha Milk plant in Lethbridge.
Bruce Forbes, CEO of Egg Processing Innovations Cooperative (EPIC), outlined operations at the refurbished plant for attendees at the recent Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency’s (ALMA) FutureFare conference in Red Deer.
Forbes was approached to take the helm of the United Egg Farmers of Alberta initiative, diverting to a specialized business plan from a more commodity-based approach. Realizing a standard breaking plant in Alberta couldn’t compete with the size of larger U.S. plants.
Forbes encouraged using the smaller operation size as an advantage. “One of the things these small barns lend themselves to is the ability to isolate flocks and treat them in a specific way to produce a very particular product,” Forbes said. This means they can customize product for customers and accommodate requests like one they’re fielding for eggs to be inseminated, incubated for two days and then pulled out, broken, pasteurized and turned to powder. They can also pasteurize eggs right in the shell, which is a product Forbes says has become popular with U.S. food-service customers buying from U.S. breaking plants.
Plant engineer Bruce Smith said EPIC is initially focusing on pasteurized liquid whole egg, pasteurized albumin, pasteurized yolk, blending for food-service companies and using the egg shell membrane and egg shell calcium. “We’re now trying to maximize the yield out of that egg,” he said.
Alberta-based Champion Petfoods is the outfit’s initial big customer.
Forbes said ALMA, the Egg Farmers of Alberta and AFSC have all been partners in getting the facility up and running. Initially there were some egg supply issues, but the situation is improving and should be completely resolved soon, Forbes said.
“We have made arrangements. We are getting product.” He noted eggs are a supply-managed business and it’s a very secure supply system once completely in it.