US large eggs more expensive than medium, small in 2022

The cost increase to produce inline eggs in the U.S. increased almost 20% in 2022, compared to the previous year.

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U.S. egg producer data collected in 2022 estimated that processing, cartoning and transportation (PCT) costs for eggs sourced inline averaged approximately US$0.56 per dozen, compared to US$0.47 per dozen in 2021, according to a study published by research group The Egg Industry Center (EIC) at Iowa State University.

Maro Ibarburu, EIC Associate Scientist and Business Analyst, said the price increase is primarily a result of the change in grade yield loss in 2022.

The study, which involved 18 responses and represented approximately 124 million laying hens in the U.S., defines grade yield loss as the sum of the losses for all eggs received that are of lower value, such as smaller sizes or undergrades, and the gain for the eggs received that are of higher value, such as larger size eggs.

According to the EIC, the grade yield loss increase was mostly due to differences in the value of large eggs compared to smaller-sized eggs. Compared to 2021’s PCT study, 2022 saw a 75% increase in estimated grade yield loss, which was driven by bigger discounts in the prices of medium or small eggs with respect to large eggs.

Additionally, the study explained that the grade yield loss value is sensitive to not only price changes, but the proportions of eggs of different sizes and classes acquired.

The egg supply shortage, and subsequent price increase, caused by the U.S.’s 2022 outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is primarily responsible for the large shift in grade yield loss between 2021 and 2022.

“This increase in estimated grade yield loss was the result of exceptionally large price differences between the price of large eggs and the smaller sizes,” stated Ibarburu. “For example, in 2022 the discount for medium-sized eggs was 57 cents per dozen when in 2021 that discount was 28 cents.”

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