While global demand for eggs is increasing, concerns are being raised about the environmental, economic and social impact of egg production. Efforts to address these sustainability concerns can, however, result in trade-offs. To enhance a transparent debate about future options and limitations in the egg sector, insight is needed in environmental, economic and social sustainability challenges as well as in potential trade-offs involved in addressing these challenges. Based on interviews with 24 stakeholders and supported by scientific literature, this paper presents an overview of current sustainability challenges and trade-offs in the Dutch egg sector. Moreover, the paper provides an overview of innovations suggested by stakeholders that can help to address the identified sustainability challenges, and describes current limitations for the implementation of these innovations. Innovations identified were related to animal health and welfare (n = 13), housing systems (n = 7), economy (n = 8), environment (n = 9), and organisation (n = 6). Stakeholders considered innovations to reduce particulate matter emissions as one with priority. In addition, controlling poultry red mite, approaches to translate costs for environmental investments to consumers, closing manure-feed cycles and improved collaboration in the chain were considered as important steps to address current sustainability challenges. Our results reveal the complex interactions between sustainability challenges in the egg sector and give insight in the different perspectives and considerations stakeholders have. Steps towards sustainable egg production therefore require multi-stakeholder dialogue to find consensus and jointly identify so-called small wins, i.e. meaningful and feasible steps that can contribute to a more sustainable food system.
- Laying hens