Mexico has been one of the largest markets for U.S. egg exports for a number of years, and a recent outbreak of avian influenza in the largest shell-egg-producing state in that country could increase the demand for imported eggs, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its latest report.

To the extent this occurs, it may impact U.S. shell egg exports in the second half of 2012. However, said the USDA, it is uncertain whether higher exports to Mexico will be in addition to normal overall exports or if the shipments will come at the expense of lower shipments to other countries.

Total egg exports (shell eggs and egg products) were 24.7 million dozen in May, down 6 percent from 2011 numbers. Much of the decrease was due to much smaller shipments to Japan and South Korea. Exports to Japan in May totaled 2.8 million dozen, down 55 percent from the same time in 2011. Exports to Korea declined 69 percent to only 401,000 dozen. Egg exports to Korea had expanded in 2011 and May 2012's exports were more in line with what was exported to Korea in May 2010. These declines were partially offset by strong increases in shipments to Hong Kong and Israel.

Over the first five months of 2012, shell egg and egg product exports totaled 112 million dozen, 5 percent lower than the same period in 2011, according to the USDA. Shipments have expanded to Canada, Hong Kong and a number of EU countries, but these gains were offset by large declines to Japan (down 23 percent) and Korea (down 85 percent).

For more egg information and statistics, see www.wattagnet.com/marketdata/html.