WASHINGTON — Production of eggs in the U.S. during March reached 9.39 billion. This included 8.03 billion table eggs, and 1.37 billion hatching eggs, the USDA reports. Of the hatching eggs, 1.27 billion were broiler-type and 97.2 million were egg-type.
For the 2022, USDA is forecasting 7.775 billion dozen total table eggs, which is a 2.5 percent year-over-year increase.
Like the other industry segments, this spring’s outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza is having an impact on U.S. egg production.
The outbreak, as of April 6, had affected approximately 5 percent of the table egg layer flock that was reported in early March, USDA’s Economic Research Service noted in its recent “Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook” report.
ERS added that, “Based on HPAI discoveries as of the first week in April and the expected path of industry recovery, the forecasts for all of 2022 were revised as follows: table egg production, down to 7.775 billion dozen; egg exports, down 277 million dozen shell-egg equivalent (a 29.4 percent decreases from last year); egg imports, up to 48.5 million dozen shell-egg equivalent (166.6 percent more than last year); and wholesale egg prices (New York, Grade A, Large) up to $1.57 per dozen (a 32.5 percent increase from last year).”
The size of the nation’s table egg layer flock on March 1 was reported at 322.7 million layers, which is 1.6 percent less than 2021, the department added.
“The unknowns related to the evolution of the current HPAI outbreak — the length of quarantine and the recovery period required following the flock depopulations, along with the expectation of high production costs — will likely further hamper the recovery and growth potential of the layer flock and thus the table egg production,” ERS said.
Table egg production for the first quarter of 2022 was forecast at 1.975 billion dozen, the report said. For the rest of 2022, the estimates are 1.875 billion dozen for the second quarter; 1.925 billion dozen for the third quarter; and 2.0 billion dozen for the fourth quarter.
Supply and demand, too
Seasonal demand associated with the recent Easter holiday also had its affect on egg supplies, in addition to the impact felt by the HPAI outbreaks.
“Easter … is one of the main periods of the year when consumer demand for shell eggs is at its highest,” ERS said. “To make sure that the demand is met, the U.S. producers start building their shell egg inventories 5 to 6 weeks before the holiday. At the same time, grocery stores and other marketers begin stocking up their supplies. It is their bid for securing the egg supplies ready to go to consumers and the inventory availability that drives the wholesale prices during this period.”
For this year, “the expected seasonal increases in prices were already underway in mid-March when the first two significant outbreaks of HPAI in the Upper Midwest were announced,” ERS added. “The two outbreaks reported between March 14-18 affected more than 8 million table egg layers of the March 1 laying flock of 322.7 million layers. Concerns over these events and subsequent outbreak announcements encouraged buyers to aggressively secure supplies, pushing wholesale egg prices up even further.”
During the week of March 14-18, the total stocks of large eggs were the highest seen since 2018, the report said. The next week, inventories were 3.8 percent lower.
Shell egg prices at the end of March were noted by the USDA at $1.94.2 per dozen. Two years ago, during the early height of the COVID-19 pandemic, shell egg prices reached $3.07 per dozen in April 2020.
“Going forward … wholesale egg prices are expected to follow their seasonal pattern and decrease as most buyers are expected to have filled their needs (ahead of the Easter holiday),” ERS added. “Also, the demand for eggs relaxes during the summer months, bringing some ease to the prices. During the previous HPAI outbreak in 2015, wholesale prices reached and maintained record-high values through the summer months. However, the outbreaks in the commercial flocks occurred later in the spring, and the number of layers affected was much higher than those discoveries as of the first week of April.”
USDA is forecasting wholesale egg prices for 2022 to be $1.57 per dozen, which is a 32.5 percent increase from last year.
Regarding egg products, USDA reports that shell eggs broken in March totaled 200 million dozen, which is a 7 percent increase from 2021, and 8 percent more than the 185 million dozen reported for February.
Also looking at 2022 egg production and prices, Shayle Shagam, a USDA livestock analyst, said that “We are looking at egg production being higher. Production is going to be about 1 percent higher for 2022, but still below the 2019 record.”
Regarding prices, Shagam added that, “we’ve seen a lot of price volatility in the course of the year. We do expect prices will average about $1.33 a dozen, compared to $1.19 in 2021. That’s below the 2018 level of $1.37, but well below the record of $1.82 that we saw in 2015.”