The baking industry may be on the cusp of change with eggs and egg replacers.

Although different factors prevailed, a price run-up for non-fat dry milk in the 1970s drove bakers to replace this once-essential bread component with less-expensive soy-based ingredients. That change proved permanent.

Is the baking industry on a similar cusp of change with eggs and egg replacers? Possibly.

The scuttlebutt across the industry is that the egg replacement trend may have legs, according to a report by executive editor Laurie Gorton in the upcoming July issue of Baking & Snack.

Why? First, some bakers and food processors fear avian flu might return this fall, resulting in another shortage of eggs and higher prices. Companies may stay with egg replacers simply to avoid volatility. Second, bakers may realize that the substitutes saved them considerable money, resulting in a potential permanent change in bakery formulations. Third, the cost of changing consumer packaged foods labels. Once businesses absorb the expense of current label changes, they may be hesitant to pay the extra costs to go back to their old labels. And then, there are consumer trends. A certain percentage of consumers may not want to go back to traditional eggs — creating the next “gluten-free” trend, according to one industry observer.

From a sanitation and operations standpoint, eliminating an allergen reduces recall risks and could reduce downtime for cleaning. That’s a bonus for any plant manager. Then again, when egg prices go down and stabilize, others argue bakers may want to return to what made their brands so successful in the first place. They may seek a clean and lean label that lists wholesome eggs as a part of the product.

In the end, yes, history has taught us lessons. And although nobody can predict the future with absolute certainty, some bakers may choose a path that best prepares them for what the future holds.