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News and analysis on the global poultry
and animal feed industries.
Egg Production / Business & Markets
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branex, Fotolia
on February 8, 2017
EXCLUSIVE SURVEY

US egg industry: cage-free demands, flock size increases

The industry bounced back from avian influenza in 2016 and added more birds and cage-free housing to keep up with its purchaser pledges.

After the U.S. avian influenza outbreak, layer flocks were restocked in 2016, shuffling Egg Industry’s Top Egg Company survey rankings.

Read the entire report about the Top Egg Company survey rankings exclusively in the February issue of Egg Industry.

The Top Egg Company survey is conducted annually, and the results reported are comprised of company-submitted information and estimates made based on input from publicly reported information and industry sources. The survey reports on the number of hens housed on December 31, 2016. The 2017 report includes 63 companies with a collective 313.2 million hens.

Several companies made big jumps in the rankings after restocking regenerated their flocks. The avian influenza crisis drove up egg prices as the supply shrunk and remained smaller than usual, but now the egg industry is facing an oversupply situation.

Four egg producers are added to the Top Egg Company rankings this year: Midwest Specialty Egg L.L.C., Chino Valley Ranchers/MCM Poultry, The happy egg co., and Weber Family Farms. Chino Valley Ranchers and The happy egg co. both focus on specialty eggs. Chino Valley – based in Colton, California – produces cage-free, free-range, organic and nutritionally enhanced eggs. The happy egg co., based in San Francisco, produces free-range eggs. It is the U.S. operation of British egg producer Noble Foods, one of the largest egg producers in Europe.

To meet the challenge of cage-free or other non-conventional production, many producers are pooling their resources to boost production. Others are expanding cage-free production by building new cage-free houses or replacing existing complexes with cage-free housing. As always, mergers and acquisitions are part of the business.

Egg producers also were asked to report expansion projects undertaken in 2016 as well as any conversions of cage housing to cage free.

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