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USDA Data On Cage-Free Production For June 2022


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 June 2022, released on July 1st documented an unchanged complement of hens producing under the Certified Organic Program from April at 18.0 million (rounded to 0.1 million). The number of hens classified as cage-free (but excluding Certified Organic) including aviary, barn and other systems of housing were 2.2 percent lower than in April to 85.6 million. The decline was in part due to depletion of a single complex of 1.8 million hens due to HPAI. 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 apparent hen numbers as posted by the USDA.


Average weekly egg production for Certified Organic in June was up 0.1 percent from May 2022 attaining a questionably high average of 84.1 percent on a hen-week basis (last month 84.1 percent). Average weekly flock production for cage free flocks other than Certified Organic in June was down by 3.3 percent from May 2022 attaining a questionable average of 83.0 percent on a hen-week basis (last month 83.0 percent). Seasonally, younger flocks increase the availability of cage-free and organic eggs in response to pullet chick placements in anticipation of pre-Easter and pre-Christmas demand. Average flock production in June 2022 represented a balance between older flocks some of which were molted and the relatively higher production from pullet chicks placed during late December 2021.


Flock Size Average

(million hens)




Q2- 2022


Q1 - 2022


Q4 - 2021


Q3 - 2021


Q2 - 2021

Certified Organic







Cage-Free Hens







Total Non-Caged








Average Weekly Production (cases)

May 2022

June 2022

Certified Organic @ 84.5% hen/day


294,235 +0.1

Cage-Free @ 83.4% hen/day


1,381,256 -3.3

Total Non-Caged


1,675,491 -2.7



Average Nest Run Contract Price Cage-Free Brown

$1.64/doz. May $1.64


$1.15 to $2.79/doz. (unchanged since Sept. ‘21).

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

Price range $1.76 to $3.10 per dozen

Average June Value of $2.46/doz. $2.22/doz. May 2022


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

$2.75/doz. June (was $2.56 May 2022)

USDA 6-Regions

*High: SW $3.99/doz. $3.32 (NE)

*Low: NW $2.04/doz. $2.00 (SW)

*Excludes HI and AK.


Negotiated nest-run cage-free price for June 2022 averaged $2.31 per dozen up from $2.22 per dozen in May 2022 reflecting unseasonal Q2 demand. Average June 2022 U.S. retail prices for cage-free eggs were 4.1 percent higher than May 2022 consistent with demand. In reality a substantial proportion of both cage free and organic production is downgraded and sold as commodity brown eggs.


Egg-NewsThe disparity between wholesale and retail prices indicates that chains are maximizing margins especially on Certified Organic and pastured categories. 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 obvious doubt as to the accuracy of individual monthly flock numbers especially when reports show a marked change for the last month in a quarter or no change in the cage-free flock for intervening or sequential months. 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 for planning and marketing decisions.


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.