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U.S. egg production recovers, prices returning to normal

Two years after one of the nation’s worst high-pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks decimated laying flocks, U.S. egg production has recovered, and prices seem to be returning to normal.

A market update prepared last month by the American Farm Bureau Federation notes that U.S. hens are expected to produce 8.7 billion dozen eggs this year. Just over 1 billion of those will go to hatcheries, resulting in more chickens. The remainder will find their way to U.S. consumers, cold storage or export markets.

The AFBF reports that egg production has surpassed pre-2015 levels. In 2015, production fell by 500 million dozen as a result of lower flock numbers due to HPAI.

Since 1993 the number of table eggs produced has been rapidly growing, averaging 1.7 percent a year prior to 2015.

“This is good news for both egg producers and consumers,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “It shows that the egg industry is rebounding from the AI outbreak, and consumers can expect egg supplies and prices to return to normal conditions.”

Long-term, egg prices have been trending higher since 2000, when the annual average price was 68.9 cents per dozen. Egg prices remained under $1 per dozen until 2007, when higher feed costs pushed prices up 59 percent in a single year to $1.14 per dozen. Avian influenza led to the second-highest jump, pushing egg prices another 28 percent higher in 2015.

“More recently,” the AFBF reported, “the increase in production that high prices tend to cause has led to 2016 and 2017 having the lowest egg prices in over a decade. Last year, egg prices averaged 85.93 cents per dozen, and in 2017 egg prices have averaged 85.6 cents per dozen through early November.”

The complete report is available at

The American Egg Board reports that annual per capita egg consumption in the U.S. averages 275.

The HPAI outbreak that started in 2014 in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest and California prompted poultry farms nationwide to step up biosecurity measures.

The outbreak affected more than 50.4 million birds in 212 commercial and 21 backyard flocks in 15 states, reaching as far east as Indiana. Estimates vary, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture and individual states spent about $900 million on disease response, and the outbreak is believed to have cost the U.S. economy $3.3 billion. It appeared to have been spread by wild waterfowl.

augusta free press
augusta free press