Automation to place eggs in cartons at North Manchester-based MPS Egg Farms (company provided photo)
Dan Krouse is VP of Operations for MPS Egg Farms. (photo provided)
Sam Krouse is VP of Business Development for MPS Egg Farms. (photo provided)
MPS Egg Farms CEO Bob Krouse is flanked by his sons. (photo provided)
One of the biggest egg producers in the state of Indiana is responding to consumer demand for eggs stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. North Manchester-based MPS Egg Farms says it saw an immediate jump in sales as pandemic-driven shopping hit grocery stores.
“Yeah, it’s been incredibly turbulent,” says Sam Krouse, vice president of business development for MPS Egg Farms. “Right from the beginning, we saw sales jump by about 100% over that first week when you saw the panic buying.”
The company says it produces about nine million eggs a day, mostly serving the retail sector. Cincinnati-based Kroger is one of its biggest clients.
Krouse says the increase is due to the simple fact that restaurants are mostly closed or offering takeout.
“When you’re eating at home, you’ve got kids at home. Eggs are such an easy thing to whip up for probably more eating occasions lunches and dinners and whatever it is for the whole family,” says Krouse.
He says the MPS egg facilities are running “full tilt,” with employees working overtime. Krouse says the entire supply chain is stressed.
“From cartons and materials, eggs, our plants, everything is just working to the maximum to keep the shelves full.”
The MPS eggs are still in the shell, while other producers sell egg products such as egg whites or egg powder that would go for industrial uses like wholesale bakeries or food manufacturing.
“We haven’t taken as big a hit as a lot of those who are serving the foodservice market,” says Krouse. “More of those eggs from foodservice are coming into the retail market but we’re continuing to see sales about 30% higher (after the initial spike) than anything we saw year to date up to the COVID situation.”
In 2018, Indiana surpassed Ohio to become the number two egg-producing state with an annual production of 9.5 billion table eggs in the Hoosier State alone. Nationally, 92 billion eggs are produced each year for cooks at home, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Before Governor Eric Holcomb issued his executive order directing Hoosiers to work at home and limit travel on March 23, MPS was already putting measures in place, according to Krouse.
“Right away, we started encouraging anybody who’s sick to stay at home,” says Dan Krouse, vice president of business operations. Dan and his brother Sam represent the sixth generation to run the operation, along with their father.
Meatpacking companies across the country have had to take a step back in their processing plants to promote worker and food safety during the pandemic with some of the largest meat processors, like Smithfield and Tyson, shutting down plants in other parts of the country.
“We’re fortunate in that we don’t have a lot of people working shoulder to shoulder, like you might in a meat processing plant, they’ve got a much bigger issue to deal with,” said Dan Krouse. “Thanks to automation and the nature of our work where you’ve got one person taking care of one house of chickens, a lot of our people are pretty spread out.”
Krouse says MPS instituted social distancing measures that kept people separated during breaks and during work.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Krouse said consumer demand is pushing business.