Real Leaders

Vital Farms is Cracking the Code on the Egg Industry

Vital Farms accelerates its growth while continuing to expand its impact in farming.

By Real Leaders

Vital Farms has grown from an idea to the leading seller of pasture-raised eggs in the U.S.

Founded in 2007, Matt O’Hayer set out to improve the standards of animal welfare in an industry with an ethics challenge. There are over 300 million commercial laying hens in the U.S., and around two-thirds of them are caged. The vast majority of them live packed in battery cages, unable to spread their wings, which makes them among the most intensively confined animals in agribusiness, according to the Humane Society.

Instead, Vital Farms raises its hens in pastures with outdoor access year round, focusing on humane treatment. It also looks out for the health of the land through sustainable farming practices. Its farmers rotate pastures and do not use pesticides or herbicides.

“Our mission is to bring ethical food to the table,” says Russell Diez-Canseco, president and CEO of Vital Farms. “We do everything we can to improve the lives of people, animals, and the planet through food.”

The company has grown from a single farm in Austin, Texas, to a national consumer brand that works with over 300 small family farms. More than 24,000 stores across the U.S. sell its products, including standard egg cartons, hard-boiled eggs, liquid whole eggs, and butter (added in 2015). They’re also on the menus of hundreds of foodservice operators across the country. From 2019-22 alone, Vital Farms has more than doubled its employees and increased its revenue by over 2.5x.

From Farm to Future: Vital Farms’ Roadmap for Positive Impact

“We continue to invest in our crew, innovate with our farmers, drive meaningful progress for the environment and our communities, support our consumers and customers, and deliver on our commitments to stockholders,” Diez-Canseco says. “We’re challenging ourselves every day to forge a path that we believe will deliver strong results and positive impact well into the future. We’re committed to raising the standards in the food industry, and as our goals demonstrate, we are taking cumulative steps every day.”

A Certified B Corporation, Vital Farms also provides long-term benefits to its stakeholders. Its core values include transparency and honesty, as evidenced by its traceability initiative that allows consumers to trace each carton of eggs back to the farm where they were laid.

In 2021, Vital Farms started producing some of its eggs using regenerative farming practices, planting certain cover crops and following other practices that revitalize and restore ecosystem functions while regenerating the soil to advance biodiversity, soil health, water quality, and nutrient density. Regenerative practices can result in higher profits for farmers, increase the land’s resiliency, and improve the health of waterways. In recognition of those efforts, in 2023, Vital Farms became the first national egg brand to earn a Regenified verification for four of its farms.

“We believe we should be restoring instead of depleting the earth through the practices we use to grow food,” Diez-Canseco says.

Vital Farms is working toward scaling regenerative agriculture practices to all of its farmers by 2026, as well as reducing carbon intensity in its operations by 25% by 2027. 

A Greener Facility

Here’s a closer look at Vital Farms’ award-winning egg washing and packing facility.

  • The building was designed to LEED Silver standards and is pursuing certification with the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • Crew-focused features capture natural light and manage engine room humidity.
  • A water filtration system allows for water reuse for up to eight hours (30+ wash cycles).
  • An offsite underground cold storage facility uses at least 25 percent less energy than above-ground storage.
  • LED lights improve energy efficiency by 50 percent.
  • Bioretention features clean and cool rainwater, provide for the recharge of local aquifers rather than runoff into storm sewers, and conserve over 700,000 gallons of water per year.
  • A solar array was added in 2023, generating close to 20 percent of the facility’s energy usage, lowering energy costs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

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