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USDA DATA ON CAGE-FREE PRODUCTION, OCTOBER 2021

11/01/2021

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

 

The USDA Cage-Free Report for October 2021, released on November 1 st documented a 0.3 percent increase (0.1 million) in the population of hens producing under the Certified Organic Program to 17.5 million (rounded to 0.1 million). Cage-free flocks that apparently remained unchanged from April through July 2021 at 68.5 million increased by 0.4 percent (0.3 million hens) from September (75.1 million) to 75.4 million in October. 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 as documented by the USDA.

 

Average flock production was increased by 0.8 percent for both categories of non-caged hens to 80.3 percent. This reflects on average a younger flock compared to September. Seasonally, younger flocks increase the availability of cage-free and organic eggs in response to pullet chick placements in anticipation of both pre-Christmas and pre-Easter demand. Average flock production in September represented the balance between older flocks and the relative production from pullet chicks placed during April 2021 together with molted flocks resuming production during the month.

 

Flock Size Average

(million hens)

October

2021

Average

Q3-

2021

Average

Q2 - 2021

Average

Q1 - 2021

Average

Q4 - 2020

Average

Q3 - 2020

Certified Organic

17.5

17.6

17.5

17.4

17.2

16.2

Cage-Free Hens

75.4

72.3

68.5

66.6

62.8

62.9

Total Non-Caged

92.9

89.9

86.0

84.0

80.0

79.1

 

Average Weekly Production (cases)

SEPTEMBER 2021

OCTOBER 2021

Certified Organic

269,501

272,940 +1.3%

Cage-Free

1,160,194

1,176,117 +1.4%

Total Non-Caged

1,429,695

1,449,057 +1.3%

 

Average Whole Contact Price Cage-Free Brown

$1.64/doz. ($1.60 August and Q1 2021)

Range:

$1.15 to $2.79/doz. (unchanged from September).

FOB Negotiated August price, grade quality, nest-run.
Loose Price range $0.73 to $1.21 per dozen

Average October Value of $0.96/doz. $0.99/doz. September 2021

 

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

$2.64/doz. (was $2.77 September 2021)

USDA 6-Regions

High: NW $3.01/doz. $2.95 (NE)

Low: SC $2.39/doz. $2.45 (SC)

 

Negotiated nest-run cage-free price for October averaged $0.96 per dozen. October retail prices were higher than September consistent with increased demand for eggs from all flock categories. In reality a substantial proportion of both cage free and organic production is downgraded to commodity eggs.

 

The disparity between wholesale and retail prices indicates that retailers are maximizing margins. This strategy restricts volume of sales and is to the disadvantage of producers.

 

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 or a delay in release of the monthly report. It is suggested that USDA should consider a quarterly report with more accurate and consistent hen data. This would 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.