For both shell egg and egg products, the total value reached $137.68 million, a 30.8 percent increase over 2006, and second only to 1996.

Don't look for 2008 to set any records, however. "USDA looks for a 5 percent decrease and I agree," says Renan Zhuang, staff economist with the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council (USAPEEC). For January, exports of table eggs were 1.6 million dozen or 76 percent less than January 2007 on volume and 61 percent less on value of $1.58 million.

Hong Kong Decreases Imports

"The January decrease is mainly due to a significant decline of nearly 2 million dozen or 76 percent in exports to Hong Kong, the single most important market for U.S. table eggs," Zhuang says. In addition, exports to other important importing countries such as Israel and Mexico declined by 77 percent and 90 percent, year over year, respectively. Exports to Canada, meanwhile, were up 340 percent, or 254,548 dozen. Zhuang gives two key reasons for a decline in table egg export value this year: the egg hatch is increasing, and U.S. consumption is increasing slightly.

On egg products, "there may be some recovery in volume this year," Zhuang says. Volume in 2007 was down 1,774 tons or 5.3 percent from 2006. The top three importing countries for U.S. egg products in 2007 were Japan, Canada, and Mexico. Imports from those countries represented 58 percent of all U.S. egg product export volume in 2007. While egg product exports were down 11 percent on volume year-over-year, the value of egg product exports was up by 9 percent, thanks to increased export prices. On value, which Zhuang thinks is a better measure for egg products because six products are aggregated together. Exports in 2007 reached $74.22 million, an increase of $5.44 million, or 7.9 percent from the previous year.

Reasons for the Increase


What allowed for the surge in 2007? With the record set on egg product value, it was largely due to an increase in product prices, says Zhuang. On table eggs, "I think the outbreak of bird flu was the major reason behind the strong import demand by those countries in 2007. Besides, the United States is more competitive in egg production than those countries thanks to advanced facilities and technology," Zhuang says. The increase in imports by some European countries is due to cage-free measures, some analysts say.

In total, U.S. producers achieved a 42 percent increase in shell egg export volume in 2007, from 55.6 million dozen to 78.7 million dozen during the year, according to USDA. Export value of table eggs in 2007 was $36.5 million. On a per unit value, table eggs increased from 66 cents per dozen in 2006 to 81 cents per dozen in 2007. During 2006, total shell exports represented 0.86 percent of annual production of 6,494 million dozen. In 2007, volume represented 1.22 percent of the production of 6,409 million dozen. The 0.36 percent increase in export, corresponding to 23 million dozen is equivalent to the output of a constant flock of one million hens, assuming 80 percent flock production. Exporting 1 percent of U.S. production in a year is equivalent to the output of 2.8 million hens or approximately three one million-hen in-line units.

Major Importers

The major increases in shell eggs last year were recorded to the Middle East [UAE, Israel and Iraq] and the EU-27, [with the Netherlands and Germany as the major destinations] and to East Asia [predominantly China], notes Zhuang. He says "exports of egg products to Japan, traditionally a significant market, decreased by 19 percent in value to $25.3 million."

USDA notes that shipments of eggs and egg products more than doubled to the EU-27 last year. Exports overall are forecast to decline from 251 million dozen, shell egg equivalent in 2007 to 230 million dozen this year.