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USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, April 11th 2019.



  • Hen Numbers in Production Down 0.3 million to 330.7 million .
  • Decrease in Shell Inventory 0.4 Percent from Past Week Following a 5.7 Percent Rise in Previous Week.
  • USDA Midwest Benchmark Generic Prices for Extra Large and Large Down 12 Percent Compared to Past Week, Mediums Down 18 Percent.
  • Although Unchanged, Breaking Stock and Check Prices Continue Substantially Below Cost of Production



According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports posted on April 8 th the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large were down 12.0 and 12.3 percent respectively compared to the past week. Mediums were 17.9 percent lower due to oversupply from young flocks entering production. The progression of prices during 2019 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

The April 8th USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 66: No. 14) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $0.90 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending March 31 st and reflects the static price during that week despite the increase in stock level. This price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $0.82 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the Southeast Region attained $0.95 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was 42 cents per dozen below the three-year average and $1.76 cents per dozen below the corresponding week (pre-Easter) in 2018 which was exceptionally high.

Flock Size

The number of producing hens this week was down 0.3 million to 330.7 million. The hen population is more than adequate to meet seasonal consumer and industrial demand in early spring but any number above 330 million in production over the short term before the pre-Easter 2019 season portends lower prices and increased inventory unless matched by proportional demand. The total U.S. egg-flock comprised 335.7 million hens including 2 nd Cycle birds and those in molt on all farms. The stable level of 5.0 million as the difference between hens in production and total hens now represents 1.5 percent of the national flock for the second successive week (was 2.7 percent in late March). This suggests that there are fewer pullets and molting flocks soon to come back into production for the pre-Easter period with implications for price given current supply, stock level and seasonally moderate demand.


Generic shell-egg stock fell 0.4 percent to 1,695,000 cases following a 5.7 percent increase during the previous week. To maintain prices the market, will have to find a balance between supply and demand as the Industry moves into the second quarter of 2019, Seasonally the fourth month of the year is characterized by stable or decreasing flock size but with higher demand during Lent and leading up to Easter falling late in 2019 on April 21 st and 22nd.

The National stock of frozen egg products as reported by the USDA on March 22nd 2019 attained 34.5 million pounds (15,690 metric tons) on February 28th 2019

Dried-egg inventory reported on March 8th increased by 4.6 percent during February 2019 to 17.3 million lbs. (7,864 metric tons) as of February 28th 2019 (was 16.5 million lbs. on January 31 st 2019)


Cold Storage

Cold storage stocks in selected regions on April 8th 2019 amounted to 2.471 million pounds (1,120 metric tons), down 2.1 percent from the stock of 2.421 million pounds during the week of April 1 st. 2019.

The most recent monthly USDA Cold Storage Report released on March 22nd documented a total stock of 34.5 million pounds (15,690 metric tons) of frozen egg products on February 28th 2019. This value was up 6.8 percent from February 28th 2018. A total of 91.0 percent of combined inventory comprised the categories of "Whole and Mixed" (47.5 percent) and "Unclassified" (43.5 percent). The lack of specificity in classification suggests a more diligent approach is required to enumerate and report inventory by the USDA.

Shell Inventory

The national stock of generic shell eggs reflecting April 8th 2019 was down by 0.4 percent, following sequential 5.7 and 9.1 percent increases in inventory to near record highs during the previous two week. The decline in inventory suggests higher demand relative to increased supply passing into early April. The market is evidently moving into balance relative to supply although hen numbers increased in anticipation of Easter. Availability of shell eggs increased over the past month from the contribution of molted hens coming back into production. In addition pullet chicks placed during early to mid- November 2018 in anticipation of Easter are now producing an excess of Mediums.

Four of six USDA Regions reported higher stock levels. The Midwest Region was up 1.5 percent compared to the previous week to 500,100 cases. This region was followed in decreasing order of stock level by the South Central Region, up 2.5 percent to 327,300 cases; the Southeast Region down 6.3 percent to 311,700 cases; the Southwest Region up 3.6 percent to 232,200 cases; the Northeast Region up 1.8 percent to 213,000 cases and the Northwest Region down 10.2 percent 110,700 cases.

The total USDA Six-Area reported stock of commodity eggs comprised 2,013,000 cases, of which 84.2 percent were shell eggs. The inventory of breaking stock was down 1.6 percent to 313,500 cases consistent with the trend in shell-egg price in recent weeks. The value of breaking stock and hence availability from both mature and young flocks will be influenced by the demand for generic shell eggs and contract obligations with breakers.

As of Monday April 8th 2019 the inventory of other than generic eggs, compared to the previous week in parentheses, comprised:-

  • Specialty category, up 1.2 percent to 55,300 cases. (up 21.6% to 54,700)
  • Certified Organic, up 2.8 percent to 86,200 cases. (up 1.6% to 83,800)
  • Cage-Free, up 1.5 percent to 93,600 cases. (down 1.7% to 92,300)

Recent data suggests a weekly fluctuation in demand for cage free products. This is attributed to an increase in production of this category starting in 2017, motivated by commitments by members of the FMI, NCCR and NRA. In mid-2018 announcements by major egg producers indicated a pause in conversion of existing facilities and a moratorium on erecting new complexes and houses until sale of eggs from non-caged flocks rose in competition with generic white. There are now firm indications from equipment manufacturers and builders and evidenced by interest at the IPPE and especially the Midwest Poultry Federation Convention, that expansion is either planned or is in progress. It is estimated that orders for 7 million to 9 million hen places have been signed, mainly for aviaries. This projected increase is supported by quarterly statistics, the November 6 th 2018 passage of California Proposition #12 and the failure of the Supreme Court to consider the multi-state challenge to the California Proposition #2 and Massachusetts ballot outcomes. The Third quarter financial report from Cal-Maine released on April 1st indicated that the company would place 4.4 million hens representing replacement of caged flocks and new facilities, requiring conversions and erection of housing and packing plants to the value of $185 million.

Demand for cage-free eggs is influenced by the relative shelf prices of the category in comparison with generic white-shelled eggs from caged flocks. At the other end of the price range, consumers will purchase less-expensive brown cage-free product over organic eggs when there is a differential in price greater than about $1.20 per dozen. Similarly, consumers purchase white-shelled generic eggs in preference to brown-shelled cage-free with a differential of over $1.20 per dozen. The need for structured statistically relevant market research on willingness to pay for attributes such as housing, GM status and nutritional enrichment is self-evident.


During the past week the USDA benchmark advertised retail price of Cage-Free brown rose by 1.5 percent on increased demand corresponding to 4 cents per dozen to $2.66 per dozen, continuing the upward move of the previous week. Certified Organic rose by 3.0 percent or 12 cents per dozen to $4.10 per dozen widening the price differential to $1.44 per dozen ($1.36 per dozen last week) suggesting short-term demand for more cage-free brown over certified organic during the current week. The differential between generic white Large and cage-free brown was $1.63 per dozen ($1.52 per dozen last week) which will continue to favor generic white over cage-free brown. Preference for generic white over cage-free brown is evident with a price differential greater than $1.20 per dozen. Large week-to-week percentage fluctuations can be expected in the stock of specialty and organic eggs based on the small base of these categories. The low stock of enriched and other specialty eggs is noted in the section on inventory.

USDA Cage-Free Data

According to the latest monthly USDA Cage-free Hen Report released April 1 st 2019 the number of hens held in other than conventional cages in March 2019 was higher by a substantial 4.6 million hens as follows:-

Total U.S. flock held for USDA Certified Organic production = 15.0 million (15.7 million Feb.)

Total U.S. flock held for cage-free production = 46.9* million (was 41.6 million.)

Total U.S. non-caged flock = 61.9 million

* In all probability the number of hens housed in aviaries and floor systems has been gradually increasing since December 2018 but not recorded by USDA during the Federal shutdown and thereafter.

This value represents 19.0 percent of a nominal 325 million U.S. flock in production but 27.5 percent of a presumed flock of 225 million held for shell-egg production

Processed Eggs

For the processing week ending April 6th 2019 eggs processed under FSIS inspection increased by 0.1 percent compared to the previous week to a level of 1,547,988 cases. The proportion of eggs broken by in-line complexes was 53.9 percent (was 54.9 percent). With lower prices for shell eggs there is a trend to divert non-contracted eggs from packing to breaking. During the corresponding processing week in 2018 in-line breakers processed 54.4 percent of eggs broken.

Eggs broken YTD 2019 attained 21.71 million cases, 7.5 percent more than the corresponding period during 2018. The difference is in part due to significantly higher prevailing shell-egg prices in 2018.


Breaking Stock

The price range for breaking stock delivered to Central States plants on April 1st was unchanged compared to the previous week to a range of 37 to 45 cents per dozen. Checks were also unchanged and still at a 'throw away' range of 17 to 22 cents per dozen. The revenue for both breaking stock and checks was far lower than the benchmark production cost for nest-run, estimated by the USDA at 60.7 cents per dozen during March 2019.

Shell Eggs

The USDA Egg Market News Report released on April 8th 2019 documented the changes in price for the major grades from the Midwest, for Central States Breaking Stock and Certified USDA Organic. The following table lists the "most frequent" ranges of values as delivered to warehouses*:-


Current Week

Previous Week

Extra Large

72-75 cents per dozen

82-85 down 12.0%


70-73 cents per dozen

80-83 down 12.3%


49-52 cents per dozen

60-63 down 17.9%

Certified Organic EL

275-310 cents per dozen

unchanged long term

Breaking stock

37-45 cents per dozen



17-22 cents per dozen


*Store Delivery approximately 5 cents per dozen more than warehouse price

The April 8th 2018 Regional (IA, WI, MN.) average FOB producer prices, for nest-run grade-quality white shelled eggs, with prices in rounded cents per dozen (last week in parentheses) were unchanged:-

EL. $0.62 ($0.69) estimated by proportion: L. $0.59 ($0.64): M. $0.31 ($0.39)

The following advertised retail prices for the week ending March 20 th 2019, (compared with the previous week in parentheses) were posted by the AMS for dozen packs:

  • USDA Certified Organic, Brown, Large: $4.10 ($3.98)
  • Cage-Free Brown, Large: $2.66 ($2.62)
  • Omega-3 Enriched Specialty, White, Large: $2.09 ($2.03)
  • Generic White, Large Grade AA $1.03 ($1.10)
  • Generic White, Large Grade A (Feature price) $1.16 ($1.11)

The retail price as determined by the USDA-AMS for generic white Large AA last week was down 7 cents per dozen to $1.03 per dozen contributing to a potential increase in demand for this category. The price for generics is following seasonal trends.

(See the text, tables and figures in the review of production and prices comprising the report on USDA February 2019 cost data, posted under the STATISTICS TAB. A report on the financial results attained by Cal-Maine Foods for the 3rd. Quarter of Fiscal 2019, is posted under the STATISTICS TAB.

Shell-Egg Demand Indicator

The USDA-AMS Shell Egg Demand Indicator for April 10th 2019 was numerically higher by 0.6 points from the last weekly report to -17.3 with a 0.4 percent decrease in inventory as determined by the USDA-ERS as follows:-

Productive flock

330,648,656 million hens

Average hen week production

79.3% (unchanged)

Average egg production

262,204,384 million per day

Proportion to shell egg market

69.6 % (was 69.7%)

Total for in-shell consumption

506,928 cases per day

USDA Inventory

1,695,000 cases

26-week rolling average inventory

4.53 days

Actual inventory on hand

5.48 days (was 5.49 days)

Shell Egg Demand Indicator

-17.3 points (was -17.6 on April 3rd 2019)

Dried Egg Products

Prices for dried egg products (most frequent price with a range in $ per pound) effective March 22nd 2018 were:-

Whole Egg






Spray-Dried White





No new quotation

U.S. dried egg inventory on February 28th 2019 as reported on March 8th 2019 was higher than on January 31st 2019 attaining 17.3 million lbs. (7,864 metric tons), equivalent to slightly less than 5-weeks current production. Inventory was 5 percent lower compared to February 28th 2018. During the period February 3 rd 2019 through March 2nd 2019, dried egg processed under USDA inspection amounted to 11.1 million lbs. Lower shell-egg prices over the past few weeks diverted non-contracted eggs from packing to breaking.


Newcastle Disease

A total of 413 exotic velogenic viscerotropic Newcastle disease (vvND = END) cases in small multi-species backyard flocks mainly comprising gamefowl (fighting cocks) were confirmed between May 18th and April 5th in the Southern California Counties of San Bernardino (128), Riverside (242), Los Angeles (42), Ventura (1) and Alameda (1). This case was confirmed in northern California during the week of March 8 th. Pre-emptive slaughter of all "birds" (presumed to be domestic galliformes and some anseriforms) in four communities in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties was conducted under the direction of the State Veterinarian for California in November. This probably resulted in dissemination of infection by owners moving birds. A case of vvND was diagnosed in a flock of non-commercial chickens, presumed to be fighting cocks in Utah County, Utah on January 18th. An investigation was initiated to ascertain whether there was any direct or indirect contact with similar flocks in Southern California but no results have been released.

The incidence rate for END fell sharply after mid-October 2018 with only 17 new cases in November. A surge of incident cases was detected in Riverside County during mid-December 2018 with 43 incident cases diagnosed during the month. There were 86 new cases in January, 48 in February, 22 during March and 5 in April to date. Eventually the USDA released funds from the 2015 HPAI outbreak but this may be characterized as too-little and too-late after 11 months.

A flock of 103,000 pullets aged 6 weeks located near Perris in Riverside County was depleted following PCR-diagnosis of vvND during the third week of December 2018. A second commercial flock comprising 180,000 egg-producing hens in Riverside County was diagnosed with vvND during the first week of January 2019 followed by two other laying flocks located about 5 miles from the previous case.

As yet the END situation has not disrupted exports of raw poultry, breeding stock, hatching or table eggs and egg products to Mexico. Following negotiations after the index case of END was diagnosed in Los Angeles County during mid-May, authorities in Mexico accepted regionalization and on May 23rd restored importation of raw poultry from other than the restricted Counties in California. There is absolutely no reason to embargo pasteurized egg products derived from a USDA-FSIS inspected plant.

Avian Influenza

As in the U.S. and the E.U. reassortant strains of avian influenza virus are introduced into regions beneath flyways by migratory birds and then transmitted to backyard and commercial free-range flocks or to confined flocks by deficiencies in biosecurity. Incident cases in the E.U., Asia and North Africa during 2018 should be a warning to U.S. producers during the early winter of 2019 since the risk of infection necessitates enhanced biosecurity and effective containment.

Four cases of LPAI H7N3 were diagnosed in organic turkey growing farms in Stanislaus County, California in early September 2018. Cases of H5N2 LPAI were diagnosed in flocks of commercial turkeys in Kandiyohi (4) and Stearns Counties (4) in Minnesota, during late-October through mid-November with an additional case in Chippewa County in February 2019. The earlier affected flocks have since been depleted following application of "controlled marketing". There is a presumption that migratory waterfowl cease shedding AI virus by the first week of April, re-commencing in December. Accordingly, enhanced biosecurity is required under the Pacific, Central and Mississippi flyways. Flocks allowed outside access during periods when migratory birds are shedding virus are vulnerable to infection.