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Egg Monthly





  • December 2020 USDA ex-farm blended nest-run benchmark price was 57.4 cents per dozen, 30.4 percent lower than the November value of 82.5 cents per dozen. The downward price trend from mid-May through July is attributed to restoration of normal consumer purchasing patterns coupled with diversion of eggs from breaking to the shell-egg market. Currently stock levels and prices indicate a severe imbalance between supply and demand with low seasonal prices attributable to moderate over-production and diversion from the egg-breaking sector.
  • December 2020 USDA average nest-run production cost was 1.8 cents per dozen higher than in November 2020 at 68.2 cents per dozen due to feed cost.
  • December 2020 USDA benchmark nest-run margin attained a negative value of 10.4 cents per dozen compared to a positive margin of 16.1 cents per dozen in November 2020.
  • December 2020 national flock in production (over 30,000 hens/farm) was up 2.0 million hens or 0.7 percent to 309.0 million. There are approximately 3.2 million hens due to return to production from molt.
  • November 2020 pullet chick hatch was down 1.3 million from October 2020 to 24.0 million.
  • November 2020 export of shell eggs and products combined was down 9.7 percent from October 2020 to 642,000 case equivalents representing the theoretical production of 9.3 million hens.



Summary tables for the latest USDA December 2020 prices and flock statistics made available by the EIC on January 8th 2020 are arranged, summarized, tabulated and reviewed in comparison with values from the previous December 9th 2019 posting reflecting November 2020 cost and production data.





5-Region Cost of Production ex farm (1st Cycle)

66.4 c/doz

68.2 c/doz


62.9 c/doz (MW)

64.0c/doz (MW)


93.1c/doz (CA)

97.7c/doz (CA)


Components of USDA 6-Region 1stCycle nest-run Cost of Production:-




36.3 c/doz


Pullet depreciation

11.8 c/doz

12.0 c/doz

Labor (estimate)

4.0 c/doz

4.0 c/doz

Housing (estimate)

5.0 c/doz

5.0 c/doz

Miscellaneous and other*

9.3 c/doz

9.3 c/doz

* Adjusted January 2020 and used as a rounding factor


Ex Farm Margin (rounded to nearest cent) according to USDA values reflecting DECEMBER 2020:-

57.4 cents per dozen1- 68.2 cents per dozen = -10.8 cents per dozen

(November 2020 comparison 82.51 cents per dozen – 66.4 cents per dozen = 16.1 cents per dozen.)

Note 1: USDA Blended egg price





Ex-farm Price (Large, White)

82.5 c/doz (Nov.)

57.4 c/doz (Dec.)

Cage-free to packing plant

151.0 c/doz (Nov.)

 151.0 c/doz (Dec.)

Warehouse/Dist. Center

109.0 c/doz (Nov.)

87.0 c/doz (Dec.)

Store delivered (estimate)

114.0 c/doz (Nov.)

92.0 c/doz (Dec)

Dept. Commerce Retail

140.8 c/doz (Oct.)

 145.0 c/doz (Nov.)

Layer Feed Cost



See note on source of data: now USDA

U.S. Average




$263.72/ton (West)

$289.14/ton (West)



$211.87/ton (MW)


$218.37/ton (MW)


Pullet Cost (19 Weeks)

$4.06 NOVEMBER 2020 $4.13 December 2020





Table-egg strain eggs in incubators

44.6 million (Nov.)

53.2 million (Dec.)

Pullet chicks hatched

25.3 million (Oct.)

24.0 million (Nov.)

Pullets to be housed in 5 months

22.8 million (Mar. ‘21.)

21.7 million (April)

Actual December 2020 flock

324.1* million

325.2 million*

National Flock in farms over 30,000

307.0 million (Oct.)

309.0 million (Nov.)

National egg-producing flock

322.8* million (Oct.)

324.6 million (Nov.)

Proportion flock in molt or post-molt

16.7% (Nov.)

17.1% (Dec.)

Total of hens in flocks over 30,000, 1st cycle (estimate)

 272.9 million (Oct.)

268.5 million (Nov.)

* USDA Revisions

Total U.S. Eggs produced

8.25 billion (Oct.)

8.09 billion (Nov.)

Cage-Free hens in production

80.1 million (Nov.)

21.5% Organic

79.8 million (Dec.)

21.6% Organic

“Top-5” States hen population (USDA)1

153.2 million (Oct.)

154.9 (Nov.)

Note 1. Texas excluded to maintain confidentiality


Based on a nominal denominator of 310 million hens in flocks over 30,000 covering 95.2 percent of the U.S complement.

USDA has amended inclusion of specific states in regions and eliminated Texas data to protect confidentiality of Company flock sizes
















Texas (estimate)

6.3% ?

6.5% ?




  1. Values rounded to 0.1%

Rate of Lay, weighted hen-week (USDA) 79.7% (OCTOBER) 83.2% (NOVEMBER)

Actual per capita egg consumption 2016:- 275.3 (up 19.8 eggs from 2015)

Actual per capita egg consumption 2017:- 282.1 (up 6.8 eggs from 2016)

Actual per capita egg consumption 2018:- 287.8 (up 5.7 eggs from 2017)

Revised per capita egg consumption 2019:- 292.8 (up 5.0 eggs from 2018)*

Projected per capita egg consumption 2020:- 285.7 (down 7.1 eggs from 2019)*

Estimated per capita egg consumption 2021:- 289.3 (up 3.5 eggs from 2020)*

*Revised, using data from USDA Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook December 16th 2020 taking into account the decreased demand from the food service sector

Egg Inventories at beginning of DECEMBER 2020:

Shell Eggs: 1.89 million cases down 5.5 percent from November 2020.

Egg Products: Not disclosed since March. Assume high level of dried egg inventory.

Eggs broken under FSIS inspection (million cases) OCTOBER: 6.43 NOVEMBER 6.21

Cumulative eggs broken under FSIS inspection 2019 (million cases) 82.9 JAN. to DEC.

Cumulative 2020: number of cases produced to date (million) 244.8 JAN. to NOV.

Cumulative 2020: proportion of total eggs broken to date 27.9% (30.1% 2019)

Shell eggs broken YTD 2020:- 68.4 million cases.

EXPORTS NOVEMBER 2020: (Expressed as shell-equivalent cases of 360 eggs).


Quantity Exported


Shell Eggs (thousand cases)

OCT. 341 NOV. 329

Products (thousand case equivalents)

OCT. 370 NOV. 313

TOTAL (thousand case equivalents)*

OCT. 711 NOV. 642

*Representing 3.4 percent of National production in November 2020.



The USDA reports data for six regions, respectively comprising the Northeast, South East (Mid-Atlantic), South Central, Midwest, Northwest and California (NW and California combined in some tables).

From March 2019 onward some state data was withheld to maintain confidentiality where a company predominates in a specific state or region.

  • The USDA ex farm benchmark blended egg price in December 2020 declined by 30.4 percent or 25.1 cents per dozen from November 2020 to 57.4 cents per dozen, contributing to a negative margin of 10.8 cents per dozen based on ‘nest-run’ eggs (delivered from the laying house) compared to a positive margin of 16.1 cents per dozen in November. The December 2020 USDA benchmark price of 57.4 cents per dozen should be compared to 81.0 cents per dozen for the corresponding month in 2019 and 90.7 cents per dozen in December 2018.
  • During December 2020, the feed component of production cost averaged 37.9 cents per dozen, up 4.4 percent from November 2020. For 2019 average feed price was 31.4 cents per dozen. The 2018 average feed cost was 33.3 cents per dozen compared with an average feed cost of 32.0 cents per dozen in 2017.
  • Combining data from the USDA and the EIC, producers recorded a negative margin of 10.8 cents per dozen at farm-level, for generic-egg flocks during November 2020. This compares with a positive margin of 16.1 cents per dozen in November 2020. For 2020 the cumulative algebraic annual margin was a positive 185.3 cents per dozen. The cumulative algebraic margin for 2019 was -33.3 cents per dozen or an average monthly loss of 2.8 cents per dozen. The cumulative margin for entire 2018 was a positive 424.0 cents per dozen or a monthly average of 35.3 cents per dozen. The algebraic margin for 2017 was a positive 39.2 cents per dozen, with the first eight months negative comparing production cost against USDA benchmark ‘nest run’ values. The algebraic average margin for 2016 was a loss of 9.6 cents per dozen with negative values recorded for eight consecutive months.
  • The simple average price of feed in December 2020 over 5-regions was $241.48 per ton, 3 percent higher (using USDA-AMS data) corresponding to $10.05 per ton compared to November 2020. Southwest data is no longer disclosed to avoid compromising a company that predominates in Texas. The highest cost among five regions was the West (including California) at $289.14 per ton may be compared to the lowest-cost region, the Midwest at $218.37 per ton. The average figure includes ingredients plus milling and delivery at a nominal $10 per ton.
  • The benchmark price of corn was $175.94 per ton in December 2020, up $11.99 per ton or 7.3 percent higher than the November 2020 price, taking into account the difference in basis paid by producers. A 2.2 percent increase of $9.19 per ton in the price of soybean meal to $425.77 per ton in December 2020 also had a material effect on the increase in feed cost. There was a wider differential of $70.77 per ton in feed price between the Midwest and the West compared to $37.22 per ton in October. The differential in corn price between the Midwest and the West in November was $73.01 per ton ($37.22 in November 2020).
  • Feed price will continue to be a major factor driving production cost and hence margin. Unknown factors influencing feed cost during the fourth quarter of 2020 will include uncertainty over international trade and especially exports to China, coupled with the economic and logistic effects of coronavirus restrictions. The decline in demand for crude oil and ethanol shuttered refineries in April depressing the price of corn. There is obviously some recovery in this sector with ethanol production attaining 935,000 barrels per day for the week ending December 31st. Substantial exports of soybeans to China, as they occur in market year 2020/2021 beginning September 2020 have increased domestic price and hence cost of production. Each $10 per ton difference in feed cost represents 1.75 cents per dozen.
  • The EIC calculated the 6-Region total nest-run production cost in December 2020 to be 68.2 cents per dozen, 1.8 cents per dozen higher than in November 2020. Production costs during December 2020 ranged from 62.0 cents per dozen in the Midwest up to 97.7 cents per dozen in California that was higher than the Midwest region by 33.7 cents per dozen.
  • Retail egg prices as determined by the Department of Commerce for NOVEMBER 2020 averaged 145.0 cents per dozen, 4.2 cents per dozen or 2.9 percent higher than in November 2020. During November 2018 and 2019 retail prices were respectively 159.6 and 140.5 cents per dozen. Consistently since 2016 retail prices have not declined in proportion to ex-farm prices, allowing higher margins at retail, thereby depressing demand. During December retail prices increased by 13 cents against a 25.1 cents per dozen decline in the USDA benchmark price. Assuming that packing and packaging costs to producers and handling, stocking and other costs to the retail segment were fairly constant between November and December, supermarkets and other stores collectively increased margins by 38.1 cents per dozen during December.


  • According to USDA data, the estimated average complement of U.S. hens in flocks over 30,000 during November 2020 amounted to 309.0 million, reflecting a seasonal adjustment in flock size. The average total U.S. flock including hens in molt on all farms counted by the USDA amounted to 324.6 million in November 2020. The average end-of-year flock sizes over the past five years respectively were, 2012 (299 million); 2013 (308 million); 2014 (311 million); 2015 (291 million post-HPAI losses) and in 2016 (319 million). The December 2020 flock is projected to be 325.7 million, down 0.4 million or 0.1 percent from the November 2020 forecast.
  • The effect of COVID restrictions on the egg-breaking segment of the industry is noted in the decline in the flock size in Iowa. In January 2020 the state had 56.4 million hens with a progressive decline to 44.8 million in July. In November the Iowa flock attained 46.2 million hens, up 0.4 million from the previous month. Low prices and COVID-related factors have reduced hen numbers by approximately 1.5 to 2.0 million hens in each of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Hens in U.S. flocks over 30,000 declined 6.9 percent or 22.4 million hens from 322.4 million in January to a low of 299.2 million in July rising to 309.0 million in November 2020.
  • Pullet chick hatch attained 24.0 million in November 2020 down 1.3 million from October. It is evident that if relatively low seasonal prices persist with further declines through January and February 2021, future flock placements will be constrained by some producers cancelling pullet-chick orders.
  • The total in-molt and post-molt population of hens in the 5-Regions monitored by the USDA attained 16.0 percent of the national flock in December 2020, compared to 16.3 percent in November 2020. Producers molted flocks in response to the drop in price of generic eggs following the end of the April surge in demand. Annual averages for molt and post-molt combined were 15.2 percent for 2019, 17.4 percent for 2018 and 18.0 percent in 2017. The high value of 23.8 percent in 2016 was due to the loss of hens during the 2015 HPAI epornitic.
  • The average monthly projections for pullets to be transferred to laying houses during the fourth quarter of 2020 was 23.2 million and is projected at 21.9 million during the first quarter of 2021.
  • The projected hatchery supply flock (parent generation) attained 2.9 million hens in November and 3.0 million in December 2020. Peak parent-flock placements rose to 3.1 million hens in production in June 2015, coinciding with the end of the HPAI epornitic, to a low of 2.5 million hens during the fourth quarter of 2016. Projections show a monthly average of 3.0 million breeder hens in production during the fourth quarter of 2020. The value may be revised depending on pullet chick orders as influenced by margins.
  • Average production of 83.2 percent in December 2020 compared to 82.9 percent in November 2020 reflects the higher proportion of younger hens and early second-cycle hens in the national flock. More pullet flocks are at or just past peak production as reflected in the availability and relatively low price of Medium-sized eggs. Average rate of lay attained 78.7 percent during 2016, 79.8 percent in 2017 and 79.2 percent in 2018. The average rate of lay during any period is a function of the proportion of pullets placed, the rate of depletion of flocks and retention of molted hens for a second cycle. Average flock production will fall as weighted flock age increases or conversely will rise due to early depletion thereby increasing the proportion of young hens in their first cycle.
  • The December 22nd USDA Poultry Slaughter Report documented 2.5 million light spent-hens processed under FSIS inspection during November 2020, down 9.8 percent from October 2020 when hens were depleted after taking advantage of previously high prevailing prices. Spent-hens are shipped live to Canada from Northern-tier U.S. states or are rendered or composted in other regions. Approximately 14 million spent hens are disposed of each month.


  • According to USDA-FAS data, 329,000 cases of shell eggs were exported in December 2020, representing 1.5 percent of total production. This value should be compared to the high value of 409,700 cases in March 2015 prior to the onset of HPAI.
  • During November 2020 the following regions were the leading importers:- North America, comprising the two neighboring USMCA nations but predominantly Mexico (43.7 percent, was 54.8 percent last month). East Asia, mainly Hong Kong/China, (41.6 percent, was 31.4 percent). The Caribbean and Central American Region combined represented 7.3 percent of shell egg exports in November. (See egg export data in the January15th edition and thereafter under the STATISTICS tab)
  • Exports of egg products in November 2020 attained 313,000 case-equivalents, representing 1.4 percent of U.S. output. The following regions were the leading importers of egg products by proportion of volume shipped:- North America, our USMCA neighbors (1 percent was 56.0 percent), East Asia (26.5 percent), Central America and the Caribbean, (8.9 percent was 3.5 percent) and the EU-27+UK (2.2 percent was 3.0 percent) represented the other significant importer of egg products from the U.S.
  • Collectively, exports of shell eggs and products in November 2020 represented the output from approximately 9.3 million hens in production during the month, attaining 642,000 case-equivalents, down 9.7 percent from October 2020. This was 33.1 percent lower compared to monthly average shipments of 960,000 case-equivalents exported over the first four months of 2015 prior to the advent of HPAI, indicating that international markets are being regained.

Maintaining export volume is attributed to cooperation between the AEB and USAPEEC, both in existing and new markets. Specific attention is directed to nations with the potential to import U.S. product based on landed price against competition. Exports of both egg-products and shell eggs in November 2020 corresponded to 3.4 percent of a nominal national flock of approximately 310 million hens in production on commercial farms holding more than 30,000 hens.

  • There is no scientifically justifiable reason why any nation should embargo pasteurized egg products from an approved plant, based on a diagnoses of avian influenza or END in a state or country.