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New method to increase yolk color and egg nutritional quality.

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Partner keyword: 
Genetic Engineering
Gene Expression, Proteome Research
Animal Production / Husbandry
Crop Production
Food Additives/Ingredients/Functional Food
Agricultural genetic engineering applications
Health food
Other research and experimental development on natural sciences and engineering


A Spanish university has developed a new feeding method to produce high quality eggs with no need of adding commercial pigments based on hybrid varieties of maize. Hens fed with these varieties of maize lay eggs with high amounts of antioxidants, carotenoids and ketocarotenoids and retain high nutritional parameters. The university is looking for industrial partners with expertise in the sector of crop production interested in a license or a technical cooperation agreement.



The total demand for animal products in developing countries is expected to more than double by 2030. Producers are really concerned to avoid pale yolks as most egg marketing authorities require deep-yellow to orange-yellow yolk colors. To this end, egg producers must include commercial supplements based on carotenes in animal feed which increases production costs and complicates the manufacturing process. Although fruits and vegetables are particularly good sources of certain carotenoids, cereal grains generally lack these compounds, leading to certain deficiencies in countries where cereals are either the staple diet or the basis of feed for animal farming.

The technology developed relates to a number of different hybrid varieties of maize producing high amounts of antioxidants. In relation to this, a new feeding method has been developed to produce high quality eggs with no need to supplement feed with commercial pigments. In particular, hens lay eggs with an intense golden yolk (range 10 to 12 on the DSM Yolk Color Fan) when fed with the new maize varieties. Consumed by the laying hens, carotenoids are readily transferred to the blood and then deposited in the yolk to provide this strong pigmentation. Egg quality parameters - egg weight, fracture strength, albumen height, haugh units or shell thickness - are not altered when compared to eggs laid by hens feed with commercial maize. Eggs also accumulate high-content of carotenoids and ketocarotenoids (astaxanthine) and retain high quality nutritional parameters. These eggs may have a better acceptance by consumers due to both properties (color and nutritional aspects).

The university is interested in a license agreement with partners that can industrialize and bring to the market this technology. The partners sought are expected to carry out the regulatory development of the technology required for the commercialization.

They are also interested in a technical cooperation agreement when further development to adapt to specific client needs may be required.

Advantages & innovations

Cooperation plus value: 
• Enables to obtain higher levels of carotenoids and ketocarotenoids (astaxanthin) in eggs when compared to commercial feed • Higher consumer acceptance due to attractive yolk color (10 to 12 DSM Yolk Color Fan) • No exogenous sources of carotenoids in feed are needed to obtain commercial eggs • The technology can be used for other commercial applications including feed for other animals with high nutritional requirements of carotenoids and ketocarotenoids.

Stage of development

Cooperation stage dev stage: 
Available for demonstration

Partner sought

Cooperation area: 
The Spanish university is looking for industrial partners working in agriculture, poultry or feed manufacturing interested in carrying out the regulatory development and commercialization of this technology. The cooperation type envisaged is a license agreement. The cooperation could also succeed via a technical cooperation agreement when further development to adapt the technology to specific needs of the client is required.