U.S. wholesale egg prices remained strong through the end of 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with prices for a dozen grade-A large eggs in the New York market averaging $1.31 in the fourth quarter, up 7 percent from the same period in 2010 and up 11 percent from the third quarter of 2011.

During 2011, prices averaged $1.15 per dozen, up 9 cents from 2010, as higher prices, especially in the second and third quarters, offset lower prices in the first quarter of 2011. With table egg production expected to expand in 2012, prices are not expected to be as strong, averaging $1.02 to $1.10 per dozen, about 8 percent lower than in 2011. This forecast will be dependent on both feed prices and the pace of economic recovery, with faster economic growth placing greater upward pressure on prices, especially in the second half of 2012, according to the USDA.

Table egg production in November 2011 was 551 million dozen, up 1.2 percent from 2010 numbers. It was higher in each of the first three quarters of 2011, and for all of 2011 is estimated at 6.6 billion dozen, which would be a gain of 0.8 percent. Production in 2012 is expected to increase at more or less the same pace, with yearly production estimated at 6.66 billion dozen, a gain of less than 1 percent.

With continuing declines in broiler production forecast for the first three quarters of 2012, the estimate for hatching egg production in 2012 is for 1.04 billion dozen, down 1.5 percent from 2011. Hatching egg production is expected to be lower than 2011 numbers through the first three quarters of 2012, but to show positive growth in the fourth quarter.


Production of hatching eggs in November 2011 totaled 83 million dozen, down 3.6 percent from 2010. All of the decrease was due to smaller production of broiler-type hatching eggs, as production of egg-type hatching eggs was up 3.1 percent from 2010, according to the USDA. The estimate for hatching egg production in the fourth quarter of 2011 is 255 million dozen, down 4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2010. The decline in broiler-type hatching egg production has been somewhat less than the decline in the number of hens in the broiler-type hatching egg flock as the rate of lay per 100 hens has increased from 2010 numbers. The number of hens in the flock totaled 50.1 million during November 2011, down 7 percent from 2010.

Total egg exports in November 2011 were the shell egg equivalent of 21.5 million dozen, up 12.8 percent from 2010 numbers. Strong domestic egg prices in the U.S. resulted in only a small expansion in exports of shell eggs, up 1.5 percent to 11.2 million dozen, while exports of egg products rose to the equivalent of 10.3 million, with shipments to Japan up 113 percent and shipments to Hong Kong up 39 percent. 

To see more information on egg and poultry prices, see www.wattagnet.com/marketdata.html.