US consumers are still eating eggs, no matter the price

Despite high egg prices and a lower supply, consumers ate nearly the same number of eggs in 2022 as they did in 2021.

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RobMattingley |
RobMattingley |
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Despite high egg prices and a lower supply, consumers ate nearly the same number of eggs in 2022 as they did in 2021.

In 2022, on average, 177.5 eggs/person were consumed over the year’s first 11 months, compared to a 12-month average of 183.5 in 2021. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) projects a decrease of only 2.8 egg/person in consumption for 2022, compared to 2021.

According to the research hub Egg Industry Center’s (EIC) January 2023 Cost and Prices Report, in December 2022, producer egg value in cents/dozen was $3.15, an increase of 255%, compared to December 2021. Producer egg value increased by $0.99, or 29%, between November 2022 to December 2022.

U.S. egg prices remained at elevated levels for the majority of 2022 due to the country’s highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak. Additionally, the increase in conventional egg prices positively impacted the demand for specialty eggs.

According to Cal-Maine Foods’, conventional egg prices exceeded specialty egg prices in all but the first quarter of 2022. However, it was abnormal. Specialty egg demand was also supported by California’s and Massachusetts’ cage-free housing mandates, which were implemented on January 1, 2022.

When will HPAI end?

While the industry is not quite sure when the avian influenza outbreak will subside, producers are working towards repopulating the flocks as quickly as possible.

One expert, Dr. Thomas Elam, consulting company FarmEconLLC President, believes that the virus will last at least through February 2023. However, he fears that the outbreak may continue well into the year due to wild birds migrating north again, unless the industry starts to look at different protocols for its biosecurity programs. 

According to data from the USDA NASS Chickens and Eggs report, producers are expecting to house an average of 22.8 million pullets each month from January through April in 2023.

By August 2023, the USDA believes the country will house 325.8 million layers, according to information from the EIC’s January 2023 U.S. Flock and Trends Projection Report. This would put the industry at levels comparable to before the HPAI outbreak became widespread.

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