1. Cal-Maine Foods Inc., 36.38 million hens
Cal-Maine Foods Inc. is the largest producer and distributor of eggs in the U.S. and the world. In fiscal 2015, its net sales totaled $1.576 billion, an increase from the $1.44 billion it reported the previous year. Approximately 27.2 percent of the company’s egg sales revenue came from the specialty eggs market, an increase from 24 percent in fiscal 2014. The specialty category includes nutritionally enhanced, cage-free and organic eggs. In April 2015, the company announced a joint venture with Rose Acre Farms Inc. to build a cage-free egg production facility near Bogata, Texas. The facility, capable of housing as many as 3 million laying hens, began production in October. Also in April, the company reached a $450,000 settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice for Clean Water Act violations in Mississippi. While the egg industry was rocked by the 2014-15 avian influenza outbreak in the U.S., none of the company’s flocks or production facilities were affected by the disease. The company enjoyed some benefit from higher egg prices, but CEO Dolph Baker said in December 2015 that he expects egg prices to remain volatile in the near future. The company named Timothy Thompson as its vice president of operations in June 2015. He has responsibility for all Cal-Maine’s processing and production facilities in Arkansas. In December, it named Michael Ermon as the vice president of operations. He has responsibility for the company’s production and processing facilities located in Farwell and Pittsburg, Texas, and Chase, Kansas.
2. Rose Acre Farms Inc., 25.59 million hens
Rose Acre Farms Inc. is a family-owned egg farm and is the second largest egg producer in the U.S. Affiliated and subsidiary corporations include Rose Acre Farms International, Marshall Egg Products, Johnson County Egg Farm and NEPCO Egg of Georgia. In April 2015, the company announced a joint venture with Cal-Maine Foods Inc. to build a cage-free egg production facility near Bogata, Texas. The facility, capable of housing 3 million laying hens, began production in October. In April, the company entered into plans with California egg distributor Hidden Villa Ranch to develop a cage-free egg farm in Hawaii. In June 2015, the company broke ground on an $80 million, potentially 2,600 acre farm near Bouse, Arizona. The facility, originally intended to house up to 3 million hens, could open by the end of 2016.
3. Michael Foods Inc., 13.45 million hens
Michael Foods Inc. is a leading food processor and distributor with business in egg products as well as refrigerated grocery and potato products. The company is the largest supplier of processed eggs in the world. The company is owned by Post Holdings Inc., which purchased it from GS Capital Partners for $2.45 billion in 2014. In 2015, Post completed a $90 million acquisition of Willamette Egg Farms, at the time the 30th largest egg producer in the U.S., which it plans to combine with Michael Foods. Michael Foods was deeply affected by the U.S. avian influenza outbreak of 2014-15. In May 2015, the company reported about 35 percent of its egg volume commitments had been affected by the avian influenza outbreak. The outbreak caused losses for Post and the layoff of Michael Foods workers. In June 2015, Michael filed a lawsuit against Hawkeye Pride Egg Farms, part of Center Fresh Group, alleging the egg producer breached its egg supply contract after the outbreak, causing Michael to fail to meet supply obligations. In a December 2015 statement, Michael Foods announced it will become an advocate for cage-free eggs with consumers and customers. The 2016 rankings contain Willamette Farms’ birds.
4. Hillandale Farms, 12.5 million hens
Hillandale Farms is one of the U.S.’s leading suppliers of shell eggs. It has production facilities in the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast and supplies retailers and distributors throughout the eastern U.S. In 2015, the company dealt with the fallout of an undercover video filmed by a member of the Humane Society of the United States working for Hillandale Farms. The video was meant to put pressure on Hillandale and its customer Costco Wholesale Corp. in their commitment to move toward cage-free laying systems. Hillandale said the undercover activist fabricated the video, because the activist's job at the company was to prevent the types of situation presented in the video from occurring. The company also completed its purchase of three egg farms located in the eastern U.S. owned by Moark L.L.C., the layer division of Land O’Lakes Inc., in July 2015.
5. Trillium Farm Holdings L.LC., 11.4 million hens
Trillium Farm Holdings L.L.C. is a private company jointly owned by two farming families in Ohio. In 2014, the company announced it is in the process of increasing its laying flock to 13 million hens. Trillium Farm Holdings produces shell eggs and egg products.
6. Rembrandt Enterprises, 11.06 million hens
Rembrandt Enterprises, doing business as Rembrandt Foods, is privately held and focuses on producing egg products for the food service and ingredients industries. The Iowa company was rocked by the 2014-15 U.S. outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, losing more than half of its layer flock to the disease. In May 2015, the company announced the temporary layoff of 231 employees in Iowa. The outbreak also put the brakes on a 14-year growth trajectory the company had been on since its foundation. In September 2015, the company announced its plans to repopulate its layer flocks during the next 12 to 14 months and bring workers back to their jobs. With the avian influenza outbreak behind it, the company plans to make cage-free eggs the company’s standard going forward and to tighten up biosecurity in its Iowa facilities. In December 2015, Rembrandt announced its plans to build a $92 million egg processing plant in northern Iowa -- announced in February 2015 -- were postponed indefinitely.
7. Hickman's Egg Ranch, 9.2 million hens
Hickman’s Family Farms is the largest shell egg producer west of the Rockies. In December 2014, the company announced that it would add 300,000 cage-free hens through its partnership with Colorado Egg of Hudson, Colorado. Initially, the new cage-free flocks will be certified organic. In July 2014, Cal-Maine announced that it formed a joint venture with Hickman's Egg Ranch Inc. called Southwest Specialty Eggs L.L.C. The new joint venture acquired Eggland's Best franchises for the state of Arizona in the summer and later in the year for southern California markets, including Clark county, and Las Vegas, Nevada. In September 2015, Hickman’s announced plans to add two new cage-free egg operations in Tonopah and Arlington, Arizona. The planned facilities will house 2 million hens.
7. Midwest Poultry Services L.P., 9.2 million
Midwest Poultry Services L.P. is an Indiana-based shell egg producer for the retail market. It is a family-owned business that employs 500.
9. Daybreak Foods Inc., 8 million hens
Daybreak Foods Inc. is the fourth-largest egg producer in the U.S. The company is privately held and is involved in shell egg and egg products production.
10. Weaver Brothers, 7.8 million hens
Weaver Brothers is a third-generation-led family farm operation still owned and managed by the founding family. The company offers cage-free and organic options. In December 2014, Weaver Brothers created a joint venture with Cooper Farms through a 50-50 purchase of the Perham Egg facility in Fort Recover, Ohio, which had opened in July 2014. The new company, which is called CW Egg Products, produces liquid egg products. The new owners have indicated that they will increase production at the facility and add layers to support this expansion. In November 2015, Weaver Brothers purchased a new warehouse in Russia, Ohio, as part of expanding its biosecurity efforts.
11. Prairie Star Farms, 7.24 million hens
Prairie Star Farms markets the combined egg production of Rindler Poultry, Ross-Medford Farms, Hoosier Pride and J Star Farms.
12. Sparboe Farms, 7 million hens
Sparboe Farms is a major shell egg producer and marketer in the United States. Its subsidiary Sparboe Foods provides egg products. The company also owns Agri-Tech, which produces premixes for lower feed cost.
13. Herbruck's Poultry Ranch, 6.89 million hens
Herbruck's Poultry Ranch is Michigan's largest egg farm, producing 60 percent of Michigan's eggs. As a fully integrated business, Herbruck's is involved in breeding, agriculture, feed and fertilizer production. The company also partners with 25 small farms to produce organic and cage-free eggs. In May 2014, the company announced plans to invest $33 million in its Saranac, Michigan, production facility over the next three years. The company received a $750,000 performance based grant from Michigan to support the construction of the facility in June 2015.
14. Fremont Farms of Iowa, 6.4 million hens
Fremont Farms of Iowa is a producer and processor of liquid egg products.
15. ISE America Inc., 6.24 million hens
ISE America Inc. is a totally integrated egg laying and production operation. The company is a subsidiary of ISE Inc., headquartered in Japan. ISE Inc. entered the chicken genetics and breeding industries in Japan in 1912. As part of the company's continued research into uses for eggs in the human diet, the ISE Egg, a lower-cholesterol egg, was developed and marketed beginning in 1989.
16. Centrum Valley Farms L.P., 6.1 million hens
Centrum Valley Farms L.P. was founded in April 2011 as a partnership between the Dean and Boomsma families, who acquired the assets of Wright County Egg Farms. Its predecessor shut down after a massive recall of its products due to contamination of Salmonella enteritidis. Centrum Valley Farms improved the existing egg production facilities and is now a leading producer of shell eggs and liquid egg products.
17. Opal Foods L.L.C., 5.4 million hens
Opal Foods, an entity created by Visalia, California, private equity fund AGR Partners, was launched in May 2014 with the acquisition of Moark's Midwest operations. Opal Foods’ began with 5.6 million laying hens at farms in Missouri and Colorado, as well as a new farm in Neosho, Missouri. The Neosho farm will eventually be home to 800,000 cage-free hens, which will bring the company’s total hen head count to more than 6 million. Opal Foods reported that many of the purchased farms had recently been renovated to comply with California’s future production standards, and some are among the most modern in the country. Opal Foods will be a franchisee of Eggland’s Best and will continue serving the same customers. The company expects annual sales in excess of US $200 million.
18. Kreider Farms, 4.9 million hens
Kreider Farms supplies shell eggs to supermarkets and wholesalers in the northeastern United States. Kreider is the largest egg producer in Pennsylvania with facilities in Mount Joy, Manheim, Middletown and Mount Pleasant.
19. Wabash Valley Produce Inc., 4.9 million hens
Wabash Valley Produce Inc. engages in egg and turkey production.
20. Center Fresh Group, 4.8 million hens
Center Fresh Group is owned by eight Iowa farm families. The company is comprised of five divisions involved in egg production: Center Fresh Egg Farm, Sioux County Egg Farm, Hawkeye Pride, Sioux County Pullets and Center Fresh Africa-Mozambique. The U.S. Farms are located in Iowa and Ohio. The company’s Iowa flocks were affected by the 2014-15 U.S. avian influenza outbreak. In June 2015, the company was sued by Michael Foods, one of the U.S.'s largest egg producers, for allegedly breaching its egg supply contract after the avian influenza outbreak and keeping Michael Foods from meeting its supply obligations.