Locally Laid Egg Co.
Noteworthy: Produces specialty eggs
Employees: 2-3 full-time; 8-9 seasonal
Neophyte farmer Jason Amundsen had a vision: providing Minnesotans with fresh eggs laid by chickens that roam freely in open pastures. The birds would enjoy better lives, and customers would enjoy tastier eggs. In 2012, Amundsen and his wife, Lucie, started the Locally Laid Egg Co. farm on land near the family’s Duluth home. Skilled writers and marketers, the Amundsens’ clever online posts and provocative ad copy (“Local Chicks Are Better”) quickly attracted attention. Locally Laid eggs are now available in supermarkets and food co-ops throughout Minnesota.
Locally Laid was fortunate that demand for eggs generally remained robust in 2020. (The exception was the food service sector, though that makes up only about 10 percent of the company’s customer base.) If Amundsen has learned anything during his eight years in business, it’s don’t put all your eggs in one basket. That helped the company remain nimble and continue to grow, even during a pandemic.
Traditionally, people in agriculture are price takers, not price makers.”
—Jason Amundsen, Locally Laid Egg Co.
Three ways locally laid has addressed business challenges:
- Don’t rely on one source. Because chicken flocks cycle in and out of production, “there are times when we have too many eggs and times when we have too few,” Amundsen says. What’s more, northern Minnesota winters make chicken farming all but impossible. A few years ago, Amundsen began contracting production to other Minnesota farms located farther south: “Our contracts specify animal welfare, pasture rotation, nutrition of the feed, and other things we focus on.”
- Diversify your products. “Traditionally, people in agriculture are price takers, not price makers,” Amundsen says. Even suppliers of high-end specialty eggs are beholden to supply and demand. In 2016, Locally Laid established the first U.S. commercial honeyberry orchard. In 2019, the orchard yielded its first crop. This distinctiveness of the product (honeyberries resemble elongated blueberries) gives Amundsen more control over the price he can charge. He expects honeyberry revenue to grow 50 to 100 percent annually over the next four years.
- Send the right message. Pre-pandemic, Locally Laid advertised regularly on Facebook and through a Minnesota Public Radio sponsorship. Amundsen pared back in 2020. Given the extraordinary economic dislocation during the pandemic, he says, “telling everyone the benefits of local foods and pasture-raised eggs” might seem insensitive. The company plans to resume advertising this year.