egg outlook

WASHINGTON — The total number of layers in the U.S. on April 1 were 383 million, a 2 percent increase from the same time last year. Of this 383 million, 314 million layers were for table eggs, 64.9 million layers for broiler-type hatching eggs, and 4 million for egg-type hatching eggs, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service notes in a recent report.

Egg production for March was down 3 percent, NASS reports, with total U.S. egg production for the month at 9.21 billion.

“Production included 7.88 billion table eggs and 1.33 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.23 billion were broiler-type and 106 million were egg-type,” NASS notes. “March egg production per 100 layers was 2,408 eggs, down 2 percent from March 2022.”

It its May 3 “Broiler Hatchery” report the department notes that, “hatcheries in the United States weekly program set 242 million eggs in incubators during the week ending April 29, 2023, down slightly from a year ago. Average hatchability for chicks hatched during the week … was 79.2 percent.”

For chicks placed, NASS reports, “broiler growers … placed 187 million chicks for meat production during the week ending April 29, 2023, down slightly from a year ago. Cumulative placements from the week ending Jan. 7, 2023, through April 29, 2023, for the United States were 3.17 billion.”

In an annual report for 2022, NASS reports that egg production was down 2 percent, with table egg production of 94 billion eggs, however hatching egg production at 15.5 billion eggs was an increase of 2 percent from 2021.

Layers for 2022 were down 3 percent averaging 379 million. “The annual average production per layer on hand in 2022 was 289 eggs, up 1 percent from 2021,” the report said.


For the current year, table egg production is being forecasted lower, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service in its most recent “Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook.”

“February table egg production is estimated at 586.1 million dozen, almost 6 percent year-over-year lower,” ERS reports. “This reduction is due to a 4.5 percent decrease in the average table egg layer flock and a 1.5 percent year-over-year reduction in the average table-egg laying rate.”

The department says the table egg flock on March 1 was at 312.9 million, a 3.8 percent decrease from the same month in 2022, but 1.3 percent more than a Feb. 1 estimate. Also, the lay rate for early March was less than the previous month and the same time the previous year.

“A lower and declining lay rate might signal that producers are holding the egg layers longer in the production cycle,” ERS said. “This is also supported by the percent of flock in molt and slaughter of light-spent hens trending below the historical averages, along with 2021 levels for most of 2022 and at the beginning for 2023; February was the first month showing year-over-year higher values.”

The department added that, “based on the current-size layer flock, the observed rate of recovery, and current trends in the layer’s productivity, the 2023 table egg production forecast is lowered to (7.975 billion) dozen. This represents a 2.5 percent increase from 2022, but it is still lower than pre-HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza) production levels of (8.031 billion) dozen in 2021.”

The ERS added that for egg prices in March, they were following the seasonal/Easter annual trends.

“Wholesale table egg prices (New York, Grade A, Large) averaged ($3.19.5) per dozen in March, up almost 65 percent from last year,” the report said. “Seasonally, egg prices tend to increase in the weeks leading to Easter and reach a peak just 1 or 2 weeks before the holiday. These patterns align with retailers’ schedules whereby they place their orders a few weeks before eggs hit the grocery shelves.”

ERS notes that prices peaked at $3.49 per dozen on March 21, held at approximately this price for a few days and then experienced a large reduction before reaching about $2.24 per dozen on April 10.

“This was one of the lowest levels since the first HPAI outbreaks were reported in the spring of 2022,” ERS said.

For the first quarter of 2023 the wholesale price for a dozen eggs averaged $3.15.9 per dozen, the report added, which is 85 percent more than in 2022.

“Going forward, no changes are made to the current and outlying quarterly projections,” ERS noted. “The wholesale 2023 egg prices are projected to average ($2.14) per dozen, down 24 percent from last year’s average of ($2.82.4) per dozen.”

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