Egg consumption per capita varies greatly around the world, from a few dozen to over 250 eggs per person per year. In the early 21st century, world egg production reached 79.3 million tonnes, having increased by 152% in 30 years. China is the number one producer, accounting for 39% of worldwide production, followed by the US, which provides a mere 8%.
Although people have eaten eggs since time immemorial, eggs remained on the margins of the human diet for a very long time. This was possibly due to religious prohibitions or superstition, as well as for economic reasons, whereby it was more profitable to leave an egg to hatch into an animal. Over time, hens’ eggs overtook those of other species such as the ostrich, peacock or pigeon.
Until the 1970s, people considered eggs as nutritionally perfect, in particular for the quality of their protein. However, in the 1980s, eggs became less popular and sales of fresh eggs dropped after scientists discovered that egg yolks are high in cholesterol, accused of contributing to cardiovascular disease. Since studies now show only a tenuous link between dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, eggs have gradually made a comeback.