Shell egg exports from the U.S. during January-February 2017 decreased by 1.6 percent in volume and 8.0 percent in total value. Unit value was lower by 7 cents per dozen for the two-month comparison between 2016 and 2017. Hong Kong was the noteworthy importer, with 4.8 million dozen representing 26.6 percent of volume and 30.0 percent of value of U.S. shipments of shell eggs. The UAE continued in second in rank for the second successive month with 19.4 percent of volume and 15.6 percent of value. Canada was not among the top-ranked importers in January-February, based mostly on economic factors and self-sufficiency rather than as a result of HPAI embargos, since our neighbor recognizes regionalization.
Following a severe outbreak of H5N6 HPAI South Korea imported 700,000 cases of shell eggs. A high proportion of this volume was air-freighted to satisfy demand prior to the month-end Lunar New Year. Total shipments for the first two months of 2017 amounted to 1.4 million dozen valued at $1.7 million or a unit value of $1.21 per dozen. Prospects for additional exports to South Korea will depend on whether the Nation will accept regionalization given the HPAI diagnosis in the now depleted flock of broiler breeders in Tennessee and “pop-up” cases of LPAI in broiler breeder flocks in Kentucky, Tennessee, and a single case in Georgia. Other considerations determining purchases by South Korea will include price, shell color and intensity of yolk pigmentation as determined by consumer demand.
The total volume of exported egg products during January-February 2017 increased by 134.5 percent and total value was higher by 104.9 percent compared to the first two months of 2016. Unit value decreased by 12.6 percent to $2,688 per ton from $3,077 in 2016, reflecting the relationship between World supply and demand. Export volume during the 1st Quarter of 2016 was constrained by the after-effects of the 2015 HPAI epornitic, as flocks had not been completely restocked.
During January-February, Japan represented 28.2 percent of the total U.S. export volume with 1,763 m. tons due to the losses experienced from H5N6 HPAI. Mexico increased volume in January-February by 363 percent and value by 233 percent compared to imports from the U.S. during the corresponding period in 2016. During the first two months of 2017 the EU imported 747 m. tons of egg products due to shortages occasioned by H5N8 HPAI. Restoration of normal supply relative to demand now prevails in the U.S. as the flocks of in-line breakers and their suppliers have been completely repopulated.
Prospects for future short-term exports of shell eggs will be limited by the willingness of importers to accept the OIE principle of regionalization. This concern follows the recent cases of North American lineage H7N9 HPAI in broiler breeders in Tennessee, Kentucky and a single case in Georgia. There have not been any reported incident cases in commercial flocks for two weeks despite intensive surveillance. Most importing nations, with the noted exception of China, are now applying regionalization and permitting imports on a nationwide or state-exclusion basis following H5 or H7 AI infection. Generally pasteurized egg products should not be subject to embargos imposed following reports of AI.