Santos Cruz stacks packaged eggs coming off the line and loads them for shipping Thursday at Carolina Egg Cos. in Red Oak. Carolina Egg is a part of Braswell Foods.
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Telegram photo / Alan Campbell

Santos Cruz stacks packaged eggs coming off the line and loads them for shipping Thursday at Carolina Egg Cos. in Red Oak. Carolina Egg is a part of Braswell Foods.

Family owned company makes feed, egg products

By John Henderson

Staff Writer

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For more than 70 years, Braswell Foods in Nashville has made feed and egg products that are sold to customers nationwide.

The fourth-generation, family owned company operates Carolina Egg Cos., Glenwood Foods, Braswell Milling Co. and Braswell Egg Co.

It is the second largest Eggland’s Best franchisee in the United States and is a licensee for Horizon Organic Eggs, the company’s website states.

Carolina Egg Cos. operates an egg-processing and -distribution center in Red Oak, with annual sales of more than 35 million eggs.

The eggs are produced from family farms and are distributed primarily in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic states to retailers and food service distributors. They are sold under the brand names Eggland’s Best, Horizon Organic Natural Choice and Dora and under private label in stores such as Harris Teeter, Farm Fresh and Sysco.

Glenwood Foods, located in Jetersville, Va., has been part of Braswell Foods since 1997. Glenwood Foods is the only U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected egg production operation in Virginia. It primarily distributes eggs in the mid-Atlantic region.

Braswell Milling, also in Nashville, is the home office of Braswell Foods. The milling company is one of the largest organic feed manufacturers in the United States. The feed produced there is sold to large customers in bulk and is used to feed chickens that produce Braswell’s eggs. The majority of the feed is made of corn and soybeans.

“We buy as much as we possibly can locally,” said Trey Braswell, executive vice president of the company. “All the corn is local. Most of the organic corn is not because there is just not that many people who are growing organic corn around here. And most of our soybean meal comes out of Raleigh and Fayetteville from Cargill, and most of that is locally grown. But our organic soybean meal is mostly from the Midwest just because there are not many people around here, unfortunately, who grown organic grains.”

Braswell Foods also operates Braswell Egg Co., which contracts with farmers who raise chickens that produce eggs. Braswell Egg Co. also raises hens up to 18 weeks old.

The company also contracts with farmers who raise the chickens that produce the eggs.

“We have chickens on contract and here in Nash County and on farms in Jetersburg,” he said. “We have contract farms in several counties in North Carolina.”

The Braswell family’s business first started in 1834 a few miles outside of Nashville. The site originally was used to grind corn using a water-powered gristmill.

“It started with Boddie Milling Co., which was an old gristmill on Boddie Mill Pond Road where they bought local corn and ground it to make cornmeal,” Braswell said. “Then in 1956, I believe, they bought an old mill here in Nashville and started making custom feed. And it’s really grown from there. We’ve made feed for outside customers. We also have raised baby chicks for other egg companies. And now we produce and market our own eggs.”

Q: What products or services do you provide?

A: We produce eggs, specific brands. We’re the second largest producer of Eggland’s Best in the country, and then we produce private labels for most of the retail chains around here. But we produce eggs.

We produce feed for our own chickens and for other chickens and some hog customers around here. We do some poultry service work but mainly for our own chickens. We clean and package the eggs and distribute to retail. We have a feed mill where we buy local grains and make feed, and we deliver it to chickens and hogs. And internally, we own the chickens and we package, sell and distribute the eggs.

We have independent contractors (who manage chicken houses) and we have company-owned housing. We deliver feed to chicken houses. The chickens eat it and lay eggs. Those go to our plant. We package and distribute the eggs to mostly retail and then some food service.

Our eggs are packaged under several different brands. I guess the most widely known brand is Eggland’s Best. We are one of the 12 owners of Eggland’s Best. We produce and market Eggland’s Best from North Carolina to Philadelphia.

In a day we probably produce around 1.8 million. We have our own fleet (of delivery trucks). We built a new chicken house about two years ago out here. We’ve expanded production on our organic. We do organic (eggs), we do cage-free (eggs) and we do caged eggs. We’ve actually expanded production on all three of those.

We also feed external hogs, swine customers and some other organic chickens.

Q: Who are your key leaders?

A: I’d rather just make the point that our people are definitely our competitive advantage, that we have got very dedicated folks. We’ve got people who have been here over 40 years. Everybody here is a key leaders, if it weren’t for these folks that work for us we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Q: How many people do you employ?

A: Between 175 and 200, and that is between North Carolina and Virginia.

Q: What is your business philosophy?

A: We strive to provide the safest and highest quality eggs and feed to our customers in a manner that glorifies God.

Q: What makes your business unique?

A: We are the premier specialty egg and feed provider on the East Coast.

Q: How has your business grown?

A: We’ve been blessed with significant growth in the last few years. We’ve increased our production in the organic, cage-free (egg market). We’ve focused our growth in the specialty eggs, that is organic, cage-free and nutritionally enhanced eggs.

Q: What kind of growth do you expect in the coming years?

A: In the coming years. We’re building a new office building across the street what this that going to do is separate the mill employes from the egg employees. The mill will stay here. The people who work in other areas of the office go across street in the new building. It will give us more room for growth.