The cost of grocery stores and food companies transitioning to cage-free eggs may becoming a little earlier than expected for all those involved in the egg market. Though many retailers pledged to only sell cage-free eggs in 2025, there is already a surplus of the product on the market which is decreasing the value of eggs, including ones produced by commercial caged hens.
Cal-Maine Foods CEO Dolph Baker said that there is a two million surplus of egg in the U.S. market right now, lowering the price of both caged and cage-free egg products. This is causing egg producers to suffer and some have to operate on a loss or halt operations all together for the time being.
According to Venessa Wong of Buzzfeed News, the avian influenza outbreak of 2015 which forced the poultry industry to cull millions of hens could be partially to blame for the surplus. While producers tried to regain the supply with more hens, food industry professionals worked out ways to lessen their demands for eggs by cutting them out of recipes. These combined factors are still affecting the industry today.
At the moment, many consumers tend to favor conventionally produced eggs over cage-free because the prices are so much lower. In 2025, though, consumers will not have a choice if they shop at most major grocery store chains. The surplus happening now could be a glimpse into the future of the price of eggs when most producers are cage-free.