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USDA DATA ON FEBRUARY 2021 CAGE-FREE PRODUCTION

03/01/2021

EGG-NEWS summarizes and comments on data and trends in the monthly USDA Cage-Free Report, correlating the information posted weekly on the EGG-NEWS Egg Weekly Price and Inventory Report.

 

The USDA Cage-Free Report for the month of February 2021 released on March 1st 2021 documented a 1.2 percent increase in the population of hens producing under the Certified Organic seal to 17.5 million. Cage-free flocks increased by 3.9 percent to 67.5 million compared to January 2021. (rounded to 0.1 million). The respective numbers of hens in organic and cage-free flocks should reflect the realities of supply and demand in the market over successive quarters. It is evident that a noteworthy proportion of organic and cage-free eggs are down-priced to the generic category when comparing Nielsen retail sales data with potential production based on hen numbers documented by the USDA.

 

Average flock production was unchanged from January at 79.0 percent for both categories of non-caged hens. This reflects flocks of stable average age. Younger flocks increase availability of cage-free eggs and organic eggs pre-Christmas and pre-Easter. Average flock production represents a balance between older flocks and the higher relative production from pullet chicks placed during October 2020 and the few molted flocks resuming production during the month.

 

Flock size Feb. Jan. ‘21 Av.

Q4

(million hens) 2020

Av. Q3

2020

Av. Q2

2020

Av. Q1

2020

Certified Organic 17.5 17.3 17.2

16.2

15.7

15.7

Cage-free hens 67.5 65.0 62.8

62.9

61.5

56.3

Total non-caged 85.0 82.3 80.0

79.1

77.2

72.0

 

Average weekly production (cases)

January 2021

February 2021

Certified Organic

266,216

268,689 +0.9

Cage-free

997,781

 1,036,814 +3.9

Total non-caged

 1,263,997

 1,305,503 +3.3

Average Whole Contact Price Cage-Free Brown

$1.60/doz. ($1.51 Sept. to Dec. 2020 $1.60 Jan. 2021)

Range:

$1.15 to $2.35/doz. (Unchanged from January)

FOB Negotiated price, grade quality, nest-run. Loose

Price range $0.86 to $2.13 per dozen

Average Value of $1.78/doz. (was $1.71 Jan 2021.)

Average Advertised National Retail Price C-F, L, Brown

$2.48/doz. (was $2.42 January 2021))

USDA 6-Regions

High: NE $2.91/doz. $2.77 (NE)

Low: SC $2.32/doz. $2.22 (SC)

 

The wider range for both wholesale and retail prices this past month reflects the unexpected increase in demand and hence prices that were maintained during January 2021.

 

Based on the importance of cage-free production, the USDA-AMS issues the report on volumes and prices at monthly intervals for the information of Industry stakeholders. There is some doubt as to the accuracy of the individual monthly flock numbers especially when reports show either no change in the cage-free flock for sequential months or a large difference usually after the end of a quarter as in this report. It is suggested that USDA consider a quarterly report with more accurate and consistent hen data to be more useful to the industry.

 

Subscribers are referred to weekly USDA wholesale and retail prices posted in the EGG-NEWS Egg Price and Inventory Report E-mailed each Friday. The previous Monthly Cage-Free Report is available under the STATISTICS Tab.