Egg company hews to Md. identity

April 02, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Steger's Farm Fresh Eggs, one of the few egg companies that market under their own names, has a strong consumer following, marketing manager Evan Fogerty told a group of farmers and business people yesterday.

Speaking at the monthly agribusiness breakfast meeting, Mr. Fogerty credited the Hampstead-based company's success to quality and name recognition.

"Maryland consumers really do want Maryland eggs," he said. "Last year, one chain left us and it only took two weeks for them to get educated. I got letters and calls from people asking 'Where can I get your eggs?' And the buyer came back groveling."

The company was started as an egg and produce route in the 1940s by Hampstead resident Claude Steger, a 15-year-old entrepreneur who had worked on his father's route in Baltimore since 1918, Mr. Fogerty said.

Since then, it has grown to include a market throughout Maryland, from southern Pennsylvania to Washington, he said.

When the route started, Mr. Steger would gather a few dozen eggs from several county farms to package each day. Now, 70 percent of the company's production comes from County Fair Farms, an affiliate company with more than a million birds laying two tractor-trailer loads of eggs per day.

Mr. Fogerty said Steger's, County Fair and the affiliated businesses brought a total of $10 million into the county last year.

"He was one of the few packers that saw a Maryland egg as a special egg," Mr. Fogerty said. "He saw the danger of packing your eggs in a generic carton, that you lose your identity and the value you can add to your business."

One of the company's quality controls is using an "off-line" procedure, where the eggs are laid one place and then transported to the packing house, he said. On-line packing houses process the eggs where they are laid.

"Eggs are laid at 105 degrees, and you can't see the cracks and the blood lines," Mr. Fogerty said. "This gives them a chance to cool down. It's just part of our commitment to supply a quality product."

Steger's also sets itself apart by packaging eggs in colorful cartons in a variety of sizes, he said.

In addition to the traditional dozen, customers can buy a six-pack, eight-pack, 18-count and two-dozen cartons.

He said cholesterol concerns should be balanced with recent studies that a high-fat diet contributes more to heart disease.

"The body manufactures its own cholesterol if it doesn't have it," Mr. Fogerty said. "Eggs have all the nutrients except vitamin C to sustain life. That's why it's called one of nature's most perfect foods.

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