Australian emu farms are selling thousands of emu eggs amid growing demand for the novelty eggs that taste even creamier than free-range hens’ eggs – albeit at a price.
Kangaroo meat is widely available in supermarkets and restaurants, but less often seen on a menu is the other native animal on Australia’s national coat of arms – emu.
But this year, as consumers are buying more emu oil – which is extracted from the animal’s fat and claims to provide medicinal benefits – emu farmers have witnessed an increasing demand for emu eggs.
So much so that even television shows such as My Kitchen Rules and Survivor have sought emu eggs, according to the ABC.
Emu eggs (about 600 grams) are about eight times larger than the average chicken egg and contain 45 per cent yolk to 55 per cent egg white, compared with a hen’s egg (about 60 grams) with about 35 per cent yolk and 65 per cent egg white.
The Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil distillery claims that one emu egg alone is enough to bake a cake and feed scrambled eggs for three, with leftover egg still remaining.
But despite research suggesting any superior health benefit from eating emu eggs is limited, consumers can expect to pay 10 to 30 times the price of conventional eggs.
Farmers sell ‘thousands of eggs’
Emu farmer Phil Henley, of Emu Logic in NSW, claimed there are benefits to eating emu eggs, and not just because of their sheer size – you can buy one avocado-sized egg and get the same amount of yolk as 10 chicken eggs.
“They do rise a lot more than hens’ eggs when used in cooking, like in a cake or an omelette,” he told The New Daily.
“They taste similar to hens’ eggs, but the yolks are very creamy.
“We know restaurants are buying them. It’s a novelty-value item on the menu.
“Inquiries have picked up a bit towards the end of the season, with people asking about emu eggs.”
Mr Henley said many Australians have been keen to try the eggs this year, often out of plain curiosity as to how they taste.
Stephen Schmidt, an emu farmer of 20 years from Try It Emu Farm, said that 900 of his 2000 emus were laying one egg every few days over the entire winter season.
“It’s meant we’ve had thousands and thousands of eggs this year,” he said.
“About half of these eggs are smaller, infertile eggs, so we decided to sell them.
We are surprised by how popular emu eggs have been. We’ve sold about 3000 eggs in three months.
“It’s gone ballistic. We can’t keep up.”
Mr Schmidt’s main business is emu oil and he said so long as demand for the oil increases, the number of emu eggs will continue to grow.
Depending on the size, farmers have been selling emu eggs for about $15 each at farmers markets and pop-up stores in shopping centres.
Are emu eggs worth the extra cost?
Bush tucker expert Paula Nihot said emu eggs were traditionally eaten by Aboriginal people as a seasonal treat.
Like hens’ eggs, they contain all eight of the essential amino acids needed in human nutrition.
But the current evidence around their unique health benefits is limited.
Maria Packard, dietitian and spokeswoman for the Dietitians Association of Australia, said that while emu eggs can be nutritious, other more accessible and affordable foods can provide the same health benefits.
“A dozen chicken eggs cost around $6, whereas one emu egg can be $15 or more,” she said.
“Eggs, in general, are a nutrient-dense food that provides good-quality protein, along with other vitamins and minerals.
“They are also great as a quick nutritious meal or snack.
“One emu egg is equal to about eight to 10 chicken eggs, so you wouldn’t eat a whole emu egg all to yourself, but it may be useful to feed a crowd.”