Review of February 2019 Production Costs.

  • February 2019 USDA Ex-Farm Benchmark Price Down 10.5 Percent from January 2019, Consistent with Seasonal Trends and Moderate Oversupply.

  • February 2019 USDA Average Nest-run Production Cost 0.2 Percent Higher than January 2019 at 60.0 cents per dozen.

  • February 2019 USDA Benchmark Nest-run Margin Decreased 45.9 Percent from January 2019 to 9.8 cents per dozen



Summary tables for the latest USDA February 2019 prices made available by the EIC on March 12th 2019 are arranged, summarized, tabulated and reviewed in comparison with values from the previous February 19th 2019 posting reflecting January 2019 cost data.




From January 2019 onwards EIC has used USDA-AMS data for regional corn, soybean and standard feed prices. The basis for corn will be cash payment except for California (10-day delivery) and Louisiana and Oregon (30-day delivery). For soybean meal a similar approach is applied with 20-days for Minnesota. It is noted that January 2019 prices are not directly comparable with December 2018. Month-to-month comparisons in 2019 will be valid.





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

59.90 c/doz

60.03 c/doz


56.50 c/doz (MW)

57.33c/doz (MW)


77.48 c/doz (CA)

77.73 c/doz (CA)

Components of 6-Region 1stCycle Cost of Production:-





31.02 c/doz


Pullet depreciation

10.91 c/doz

10.93 c/doz

Labor (estimate)

4.00 c/doz

4.00 c/doz

Housing (estimate)*

5.00 c/doz

5.30 c/doz

Miscellaneous and other*

8.97 c/doz

8.66 c/doz

* Adjusted February 2019

Ex Farm Margin according to USDA values reflecting FEBRUARY 2019:-

69.8 cents per dozen1- 60.0 cents per dozen = +9.8 cents per dozen

(JANUARY 2019 comparison 78.0 1 cents per dozen - 59.9 cents per dozen = +18.1 cents per dozen.)

Note 1: USDA Blended egg price





Ex-farm Price (Large, White)

78.0 c/doz

69.8 c/doz


Cage-free to packing plant

156.0 c/doz

156.0 c/doz


Warehouse/Dist. Center

113.0 c/doz (Jan.)

114.0 c/doz


Store delivered (estimate)

118.0 c/doz (Jan.)

119.0 c/doz


Dept. Commerce Retail

155.4 c/doz (Dec.)

155.4 c/doz (Jan.)

Layer Feed Cost



See note on source of data: now USDA

U.S. Average





$222.52/ton (West)

$223.91/ton (West)


$178.56/ton (MW)

$183.25/ton (MW)


$ 43.96/ton

$ 40.66/ton

Pullet Cost (19 Weeks) $3.77 JANUARY 2019 $3.77 FEBRUARY 2019







Egg-strain eggs in incubators

52.1 million

56.9 million

Pullet chicks hatched

23.4 million (Dec '18.)

27.1 million (Jan.)

Pullets to be housed in 5 months

21.1 million (May)

23.7 million (June)


National Flock in farms over 30,000

311.2 million (Nov '18.*)

320.7 million (Jan.)

National egg-producing flock

331.3 million (Dec '18.)

330.6 million (Jan.)


Proportion flock in molt or post-molt

14.8% (Dec '18.)

15.6% (Jan.)

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

282.3 (Dec '18.)

279.0 million (Jan.)

* No December data

Total U.S. Eggs produced

8.26 billion (Dec.)

8.23 billion (Jan.)

Cage-Free hens in production

57.2 million (Jan.)

27.4% Organic

57.3 million (Feb.)

27.4% Organic

"Top-6" States hen population (USDA)

179.1million (Nov '18*.)

million (Jan.)

* No December data


Based on a denominator of 320.7 million hens in flocks over 30,000.



Nov. 20181

JAN. 20182

Proportion by region (Jan. 2019)




MW 53.0%




NE 10.4%




SE 9.2%




SC 12.1%




CA 4.3%




NW 2.9%

1. No December data (Values rounded to 0.1%) 2, No January Data

Rate of Lay, weighted hen-week (USDA) 80.4% (January) 80.2% (FEBRUARY)

Actual USDA-ERS 2015 U.S. per capita annual egg consumption revised due to HPAI:- 255.8 eggs (-11.7 from 2014)

Actual USDA-ERS 2016 U.S. per capita annual egg consumption:- 271.6 eggs (+15.8 from 2015)

Actual USDA-ERS 2017 U.S. per capita annual egg consumption:- 276.3 eggs (+4.7 from 2016)

Estimated USDA-ERS 2018 U.S. per capita annual egg consumption to be:- 278.8 eggs (+2.5 from 2017)

Projected USDA-ERS 2019 U.S. per capita annual egg consumption to be:- 279.8 eggs (+1.0 from 2018)


Eggs broken under FSIS inspection (million cases) DECEMBER 6.584 JANUARY 7.030

Cumulative 2019: number of cases produced 22.858 million, JANUARY

Cumulative 2018: proportion of total eggs broken 30.8%




Quantity Exported



Shell Eggs (thousand cases)

NOV. 314 DEC. 353

Products (thousand case equivalents)

NOV. 307 DEC. 289

TOTAL (thousand case equivalents)

NOV. 621 DEC. 642

*Representing 3.2 percent of National production in December 2018



The following comments and comparisons are provided on February 2019 USDA values:-


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)

  • The USDA ex farm benchmark blended egg price in February 2019 decreased by 10.5 percent or 8.2 cents per dozen from January 2019 to 78.0 cents per dozen, contributing to a positive margin of 9.8 cents per dozen as delivered 'nest-run' (from the laying house). The February 2019 price of 69.8 cents per dozen should be compared to 120.7 cents per dozen for the corresponding month in 2018 and 38.9 cents per dozen in January 2017 post-HPAI.

  • During February 2019 the feed component of production cost averaged 31.1 cents per dozen higher by 0.3 percent from January 2018. 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 positive margin of 9.8 cents per dozen at farm level for flocks in February 2019 compared to a positive margin of 18.1 cents per dozen in January 2019.

    The cumulative margin for entire 2018 was 424.0 cents per dozen or a monthly average of 35.3 cents per dozen. The algebraic margin for entire 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 entire 2016 was a loss of 9.6 cents per dozen with negative values recorded for eight consecutive months.

  • The simple average price of feed for February 2019 over 5-regions was $198.35 per ton, apparently higher using USDA-AMS data by $0.75 per ton (up 0.4 percent) compared to January 2019. The Southwest recorded the highest cost among five regions at a price of $223.91 per ton compared to the lowest region, the Midwest at $183.25 per ton. The average figure includes ingredients plus milling and delivery at approximately $10 per ton. The benchmark price of corn was $149.66 per ton in February 2019, up 2.8 percent from January taking into account the difference in basis. A decrease of 2.7 percent in the price of soybean meal from $320.99 per ton in January to $312.12 per ton in February contributed to a higher feed cost offsetting the decrease in corn price. There was a $42.03 per ton differential in corn price between the Midwest and the Southeast in February 2019.

  • Feed price will continue to be a major factor driving production cost and hence margin. Unknown factors influencing feed cost during the first quarter of 2019 will include disruption of international trade due to tariffs imposed by China. 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 February 2019 to be 60.0 cents per dozen, 0.1 cent per dozen more than in January. Production costs during February 2019 ranged from 57.3 cents per dozen in the Midwest up to 77.7 cents per dozen in California which was higher than the Midwest region by 20.4 cents per dozen.

  • Retail egg prices as determined by the Department of Commerce for January 2019 averaged 155.4 cents per dozen, 4.1 cents per dozen less than in December 2018. During January 2017 and 2018 retail prices were respectively 159.9 and 176.9 cents per dozen. During entire 2016 and extending through August 2017, retail prices did not decline in proportion to ex-farm prices allowing higher margins at retail thereby depressing demand.




  • According to USDA data, the estimated average complement of U.S. hens in flocks over 30,000 during January 2019 amounted to 320.1 million, 9.5 million more than in November 2018 (December data not released) reflecting a seasonal adjustment in flock size. The total U.S. flock including hens in molt on all farms counted by the USDA amounted to 330.6 million in January. 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 EIC predicts the December 2019 total egg production flock will be 341.3 million.

  • Pullet chick hatch was up 16.0 percent in January 2019 to 27.1 million compared to the previous month at 23.4 million. The high October 2018 value of 27.4 million was in anticipation of the Easter 2019 market. It is evident that if lower prices prevail during spring months flock placements will decline due to 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 15.5 percent of the national flock in February 2018, compared to 14.8 percent in January. The annual averages were 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 in the 2015 HPAI epornitic.

  • Average monthly pullet transfer to laying houses during the third and fourth quarters of 2018 amounted to 26.0 and 24.7 million respectively. The monthly projection for pullets to be transferred to laying houses during the first quarter of 2019 is 23.2 million and 22.0 million for the subsequent quarter. Cancellation of pullet chick orders are unlikely if wholesale prices continue above production cost.

  • The hatchery supply flock decreased from a level of 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 4 th Quarter of 2016. Projections show monthly averages of 2.5 and 2.4 million breeder hens in production during the third and fourth quarters of 2018 respectively. A further reduction to an average of 2.2 million hens is projected for the first and second quarters of 2019. The August breeder flock is estimated at 2.5 million in anticipation of progeny reaching maturity in November 2019.

  • Average rate of lay attained 78.7 percent during 2016 and increased to 79.8 percent in 2017. Average production of 80.2 percent in February is reflected in the number of young pullets approaching and attaining peak production as evidenced by the volume and hence price of mediums. The average rate of lay during a 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 will rise due to early depletion and restricting production to the first cycle.

  • Slaughter of spent light hens during December 2018 attained 3.4 million compared with 4.5 million in December 2017. 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, 352,600 cases of shell eggs were exported in December, (314,400 in November 2018) representing 1.5 percent of total production. This value should be compared to the high value of 409,700 cases in March 2016 prior to the onset of HPAI. During December 2018 the following regions were the leading importers:- North America comprising the two neighboring NAFTA/USMCA nations (60.4 percent), East Asia (30.4 percent.). Shipments in December to the Middle East decreased to 0.9 percent of monthly volume with 3,100 cases, down from 11,900 cases in October 2018. Neither the E.U. Central America nor Southeast Asia imported shell eggs during 2018.
  • Exports of egg products in December 2018 were down 17.7 percent from November 2018 to 289,000 case-equivalents representing 1.3 percent of U.S. output. The following regions were the leading importers of egg products by proportion of volume shipped in December:- North America or our NAFTA/USMCA neighbors (received 42.8 percent was 40.7 percent in November), East Asia (33.5 percent), the EU-28 (5.4 percent, was 7.5 percent) and the Caribbean (3.5 percent).
  • Collectively, exports of shell eggs and products in December 2018 represented the equivalent of approximately 10.1 million hens in production during the month, attaining 641,600 case-equivalents (was 621,100 in October). This was a 35.3 percent decrease 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 the need to re-build markets.

  • Efforts in this respect are in progress due to cooperation between the AEB and USAPEEC both in existing and new markets with the potential to import U.S. product based on landed price in a competitive World market. Exports of both egg-products and shell eggs in December 2018 corresponded to 2.8 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 scientific 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.