USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, January 30th 2019.


Due to the Federal shutdown effective midnight December 24th some data required for this report was not updated by USDA-AMS. Updated data will be posted when the USDA resumes operation.

  • Hen Numbers in Production stable at 328.2 million from January 24 th.
  • Shell Inventory Down 0.5 Percent from Previous Week.
  • USDA Midwest Benchmark Generic Prices for Extra Large and Large up by 18.3 and 18.6 Percent respectively. Mediums up by 44.4 Percent Compared to Past Week.



According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports posted on January 28 th the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large were higher by 18.3 and 18.6 percent and Mediums were up 44.4 percent compared to the past week. The progression of prices during 2018 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

The January 28th USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 66: No. 04) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $1.06 per dozen delivered to warehouses for the week ending January 24th. This price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $0.97 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the Southeast Region attained $1.13 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was 30 cents per dozen below the three-year average and 65 cents per dozen below the corresponding week in 2018 which was exceptional.

Flock Size

The number of producing hens this week remained at 328.2 million. The hen population is more than adequate to meet early winter seasonal consumer and industrial demand but any number above 325 million in production over the short term into the winter of 2019 portends lower prices and increased inventory unless matched by proportional demand. The total U.S. egg-flock comprised 332.2 million hens including 2nd Cycle birds and those in molt on all farms, stable from January 24th. The 4.0 million difference between hens in production and total hens represents 1.2 percent of the national flock. This suggests that there are fewer pullets and molted flocks soon to come back into production with implications for price given current supply and seasonally moderate demand.


Generic shell-egg stock fell 0.5 percent to 1,168,500 cases following a 11.2 percent decrease compared to the previous week. To maintain prices the market, will have to find a balance between supply and demand as the Industry moves through the first quarter of 2019, Seasonally the first two months of the new year are characterized by decreasing flock size but with lower demand and hence reduced prices until the pre-Easter weeks.

The National stock of frozen egg products as reported by the USDA on December 21st 2018 (the last release before the shutdown) attained 29.6 million pounds (13,464 metric tons) on November 30 th 2018 up 6.1 percent from November 30th 2017.

Dried-egg inventory increased by 10.4 percent during December to 14.9 million lbs. (6,363 metric tons) as of December 31st 2018 (was 13.5 million lbs. on November 30th 2018)


Cold Storage

Cold storage stocks in selected regions on January 22nd 2019 amounted to 2.714 million pounds (1,234 metric tons), unchanged from the stock of 2.716 million pounds during the week of January 1 st. 2019.

The most recent monthly USDA Cold Storage Report released on December 21st 2018 (the last before the shutdown) documented a total stock of 29.6 million pounds (13,464 metric tons) of frozen egg products on November 30th 2018. This value was up 6.1 percent from November 30th 2017. A total of 87.6 percent of combined inventory comprised the categories of "Whole and Mixed" (47.2 percent) and "Unclassified" (42.7 percent). The lack of specificity in classification suggests a more diligent approach is required to enumerate and report inventory by the USDA.

Shell Inventory

The national stock of generic shell eggs reflecting January 28th 2019 was lower by 0.5 percent, following an 11.2 percent decrease in inventory during the previous week. This suggests that lower prices have stimulated demand through January after the supply chain was filled for the 2018 holiday season. The market is apparently in mild over-demand relative to supply as flocks have stabilized in number. Availability is now restrained by fewer molted hens coming back into production for prior seasonal demand although there is still a contribution of Mediums from pullet chicks placed in early August.

Three of six USDA Regions reported lower stock levels. The Midwest Region was up 10.1 percent compared to the previous week to 367,400 cases. This region was followed in decreasing order of stock level by the Southeast Region, down 7.3 percent to 251,900 cases; the South Central Region down 12.4 percent to 202,900 cases; the Southwest Region up 4.6 percent to 140,900 cases; the Northeast Region up 5.9 percent to 123,000 cases and the Northwest Region down 4.1 percent to 82,300 cases.

The total USDA Six-Area reported stock of commodity eggs comprised 1,515,500 cases, of which 77.1 percent were shell eggs. The inventory of breaking stock was down 4.1 percent to 347,000 cases consistent with the trend in shell-egg price in recent weeks. The value of breaking stock and hence availability from both mature and young flocks will be influenced by the demand for generic shell eggs and contract obligations with breakers.

As of Monday January 28th 2019 the inventory of other than generic eggs, compared to the previous week in parentheses, comprised:-

  • Specialty category, up 13.8 percent to 43,000 cases. (down 4.1% to 37,800)
  • Certified Organic, down 0.4 percent to 75,400 cases. (up 4.1% to 75,700)
  • Cage-Free, down 1.8 percent to 73,200 cases. (up 0.3% to 74,500)

Recent data suggests a weekly fluctuation in demand for cage free products. This is attributed to an increase in production of this category in 2017, motivated by commitments by members of the FMI, NCCR and NRA. Recent announcements by major egg producers indicate a pause in conversion of existing facilities and a short-term moratorium in erecting new complexes and houses until sale of eggs from non-caged flocks rises in competition with generic white. There are indications from equipment manufacturers that some expansion is either planned or is in progress supported by quarterly statistics and the November 6th 2018 passage of California Proposition #12 and the failure of the Supreme Court to consider the multi-state challenge to the California and Massachusetts ballots.

Demand for cage-free eggs is influenced by the relative shelf prices of the category in comparison with generic white-shelled eggs from caged flocks. At the other end of the price range, consumers will purchase less-expensive brown cage-free product over organic eggs when there is a differential in price greater than $1.20 per dozen. Similarly, consumers purchase white-shelled generic eggs in preference to brown-shelled cage-free with a differential of over $1.20 per dozen. The need for structured statistically relevant market research on willingness to pay for attributes such as housing, GM status and nutritional enrichment is self-evident.


During the past week the USDA benchmark advertised retail price of Cage-Free brown rose by 12.7 percent on increased demand corresponding to 30 cents per dozen to $2.66 per dozen, reversing the downward move of the previous two weeks. Certified Organic rose 21.7 percent or 70 cents per dozen to $3.93 per dozen widening the price differential to $1.27 per dozen ($0.87 per dozen last week) suggesting short-term demand for cage-free brown over certified organic over certified organic during the current week. The differential between generic white Large and cage-free brown was $1.65 per dozen ($1.24 per dozen last week) which will significantly favor demand for generic white over cage-free brown. Preference for generic white over cage-free brown is evident with a price differential greater than $1.20 per dozen. Large week-to-week percentage fluctuations can be expected in the stock of specialty and organic eggs based on the small base of these categories. The low stock of specialty eggs is noted in the section on inventory.

USDA Cage-Free Data

According to the latest monthly USDA Cage-free Hen Report released January 7th 2018 the number of hens held in other than conventional cages in December was unchanged from November as follows:-

Total U.S. flock held for USDA Certified Organic production = 15.7 million (unchanged since Sept.)

Total U.S. flock held for cage-free production = 41.5 million (was 41.4 million, Oct.)

Total U.S. non-caged flock = 57.2 million This value represents 17.6 percent of a nominal 325 million U.S. flock in production but 25.4 percent of a presumed flock of 225 million held for shell-egg production

Processed Eggs

For the processing week ending January 26th 2019 eggs processed under FSIS inspection decreased by 2.9 percent compared to the previous week to a level of 1,578,413 cases. The proportion of eggs broken by in-line complexes was 53.8 percent (was 53.5 percent). With lower prices for shell eggs there is a trend to increased consignment of non-contracted eggs to breaking from packing. During the corresponding processing week in 2018 in-line breakers processed 54.5 percent of eggs broken.

Eggs broken YTD attained 6.39 million cases, 9.3 percent more than the corresponding period during 2018. The difference is in part due to high prevailing shell-egg prices in 2018.


Breaking Stock

The price range for breaking stock delivered to Central States plants on January 28th was higher by 10.4 percent compared to the previous week with a range of 40 to 45 cents per dozen. Checks were higher by 26.8 percent over a range of 22 to 30 cents per dozen. The revenue for both breaking stock and checks was lower than the benchmark production cost for nest-run, estimated by the USDA at 60.9 cents per dozen during December 2018.

Shell Eggs

The USDA Egg Market News Report released on January 28 th 2019 documented the changes in price for the major grades from the Midwest, for Central States Breaking Stock and Certified USDA Organic. The following table lists the "most frequent" ranges of values as delivered to warehouses*:-


Current Week

Previous Week

Extra Large

115-108 cents per dozen

97-100 up 18.3%


113-116 cents per dozen

95-98 up 18.6%


83-86 cents per dozen

57-60 up 44.4%

Certified Organic EL

275-310 cents per dozen

unchanged long term

Breaking stock

40-45 cents per dozen

37-40 up 10.4%


22-30 cents per dozen

18-23 up 26.8%

*Store Delivery approximately 5 cents per dozen more than warehouse price

The January 22nd 2018 Regional (IA, WI, MN.) average FOB producer prices, for nest-run grade-quality white shelled eggs, with prices in rounded cents per dozen (last week in parentheses) were unchanged:-

EL. $0.97 ($0.83) estimated by proportion: L. $0.99 ($0.87): M. $0.71 ($0.49)

The following advertised retail prices for the week ending January 28 th 2019, (compared with the previous week in parentheses) were posted by the AMS for dozen packs:

  • USDA Certified Organic, Brown, Large: $3.93 ($3.23)
  • Cage-Free Brown, Large: $2.66 ($2.36)
  • Omega-3 Enriched Specialty, White, Large: $2.13 ($2.08)
  • Generic White, Large Grade AA $1.01 ($1.12)
  • Generic White, Large Grade A (Feature price) $1.19 ($1.15)

The retail price as determined by the USDA-AMS for generic white Large AA last week was down 11 cents per dozen to $1.01 per dozen. The price for generics is following seasonal trends but at a lower trajectory through mid-January with a sharp rise this past week.

(See the text, tables and figures in the review of production and prices comprising the report on USDA December 2018 data, posted under the STATISTICS tab. A report on the financial results attained by Cal-Maine Foods for the 2nd. Quarter of Fiscal 2019, is posted under the STATISTICS tab.)

Shell-Egg Demand Indicator

The USDA-AMS Shell Egg Demand Indicator for January 31st 2019 was numerically higher by 0.5 points from the last weekly report to +16.1 with an 0.5 percent decrease in inventory as determined by the USDA-ERS as follows:-

Productive flock

328,292,350 million hens

Average hen week production

79.7 % (was 79.8%)

Average egg production

261,649,003 million per day

Proportion to shell egg market

69.0% (was 68.1%)

Total for in-shell consumption 

501,494 cases per day

USDA Inventory

1,168,500 cases

26-week rolling average inventory

4.57 days

Actual inventory on hand

3.82 days

Shell Egg Demand Indicator

+19.6 points (was +19.1 on January 24h 2019)

Dried Egg Products

Prices for dried egg products (most frequent price with a range in $ per pound) effective January 11th 2018 were:-

Whole Egg






Spray-Dried White





No new quotation

U.S. dried egg inventory on December 31st 2018 as reported on January 11th 2019 was higher than November 30th attaining 14.9 million lbs. (6,768 metric tons), equivalent to slightly less than 7-weeks current production. Inventory was 15 percent lower compared to December 31st 2017. During the period December 3 rd 2018 through December 29th 2018, dried egg processed under USDA inspection amounted to 9.4 million lbs. Lower shell-egg prices over the past few weeks diverted non-contracted eggs from packing to breaking.


Newcastle Disease

A total of 231 exotic velogenic viscerotropic Newcastle disease (vvND = END) cases in small multi-species backyard flocks mainly comprising gamefowl (fighting cocks) were confirmed between May 18th and December 20th in the Southern California Counties of San Bernardino (104), Riverside (87), Los Angeles (39) and Ventura (1). The report has not been updated since December 21st 2018 but it is understood to be approaching 300 cases. An isolate of END was obtained from a live bird market in Los Angeles on routine surveillance in October. Pre-emptive slaughter of all "birds" (presumed to be domestic galliformes and anseriforms) in four communities in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties was conducted under the direction of the State Veterinarian for California. This probably resulted in dissemination of infection by owners moving birds. A case of vvND was diagnosed in a flock of non-commercial chickens, presumed to be fighting cocks in Utah County, Utah on January 18th. An investigation is in progress to ascertain whether there was any direct or indirect contact with similar flocks in Southern California.

The incidence rate for END fell sharply after mid-October with 17 new cases in November. A surge of incident cases was detected in Riverside County during mid-December 2018. A flock of 103,000 pullets aged 6 weeks located near Perris in Riverside County was depleted following PCR-diagnosis of vvND during the third week of December 2018. A second commercial flock comprising 180,000 egg-producing hens in Riverside County was diagnosed with vvND during the first week of January 2019 followed by a second laying flock located about 5 miles from the previous case.

As yet the END situation has not disrupted exports of raw poultry, breeding stock, hatching or table eggs and egg products to Mexico. Following negotiations after the index case of END was diagnosed in Los Angeles County during mid-May, authorities in Mexico accepted regionalization and on May 23rd restored importation of raw poultry from other than the restricted Counties in California. There is absolutely no reason to embargo pasteurized egg products derived from a USDA-FSIS inspected plant.

Avian Influenza

As in the U.S. and the E.U. reassortant strains of avian influenza virus are introduced into regions beneath flyways by migratory birds and then transmitted to backyard and commercial free-range flocks or to confined flocks by deficiencies in biosecurity. Incident cases in the E.U., Asia and North Africa during 2018 should be a warning to U.S. producers during the fall and early winter of 2018 since the risk of infection necessitates enhanced biosecurity and effective containment.

Four cases of LPAI H7N3 were diagnosed in organic turkey growing farms in Stanislaus County, California in early September 2018. Cases of H5N2 LPAI were diagnosed in flocks of commercial turkeys in Kandiyohi (4) and Stearns Counties (4) in Minnesota, during late-October through mid-November. These flocks have since been depleted following application of "controlled marketing". There is a presumption that migratory waterfowl cease shedding AI virus by the first week of April, re-commencing in December. Accordingly, enhanced biosecurity is required under the Pacific, Central and Mississippi flyways. Flocks allowed outside access during periods when migratory birds are shedding virus are vulnerable to infection.