In 2015, the U.S. lowered its barriers to imports of eggs to meet demand in the face of the avian influenza catastrophe that hit its commercial shell egg and turkey sectors so hard. Now that the industry has recovered, the U.S. has re-imposed its restrictions on imports and that is causing difficulties in Spain, reports El Pais.
As a result of the avian influenza outbreaks, several countries stepped up to supply eggs to the U.S. Among these was the European Union, of which almost half came from Spain. According to the report, Spain produced around 800,000 metric tons (mt) of eggs in 2015. Of this total, 86,000 mt was exported, including 22,000 mt to North America.
The complete loss of this valuable export market has meant surpluses in Spain as egg prices fall below the cost of production. The average egg price is down to EUR0.55 (US$0.62), way below the production cost of EUR1.40 (US$1.57). The report adds that these effects are also being felt in other EU countries, including Germany and the U.K.
A snapshot of the scale of the problem is shown in the latest World Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report from the USDA. In 2015, with the avian influenza crisis in the U.S. at its height, egg imports were 123.3 million dozen – a four-fold increase from the 34.7 million dozen the previous year. The latest forecast for imports this year is 113.6 million dozen, with a further decline to 60 million dozen in 2017.