Egg Monthly


Review of February 2020 Egg Production Costs and Statistics.

  • February 2020 USDA ex-farm blended nest-run benchmark price was 68.9 cents per dozen, 30.2 percent higher than in January 2020 at 52.9 cents per dozen. Falling prices during February are consistent with seasonal purchase trends but the intensity during past weeks was accentuated by oversupply. The sharp upward price during the second week of March is attributed to COVID-19 panic buying. Prices will respond negatively when the pipeline is full since consumers are willing to store only a relatively small number of eggs over normal purchase patterns.
  • February 2020 USDA average nest-run production cost was 0.4 cent per dozen lower than in January 2020 at 60.4 cents per dozen.
  • February 2020 USDA benchmark nest-run margin attained a positive value of 8.5 cents per dozen compared to a negative margin of 7.9 cents per dozen in January 2020.
  • January 2020 national flock ( over 30,000 hens/farm) was down 1.8 million hens or 0.6 percent to 323.3 million.
  • January 2020 pullet chick hatch was up 14.3 percent from December 2019 to 26.4 million.
  • January 2020 exports of shell eggs and products were down 4.4 percent from December 2019 to 738,000 case equivalents representing the theoretical production of 9.9 million hens.



Summary tables for the latest USDA February 2020 prices and flock statistics made available by the EIC on March 11th 2020 are arranged, summarized, tabulated and reviewed in comparison with values from the previous February 11th 2019 posting reflecting January 2020 cost and production data.






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

60.8 c/doz

60.4 c/doz


57.8 c/doz (MW)

57.3c/doz (MW)


86.5 c/doz (CA)

86.3c/doz (CA)

Components of USDA 6-Region 1stCycle nest-run Cost of Production:-





31.5 c/doz


Pullet depreciation

11.1 c/doz

11.0 c/doz

Labor (estimate)

4.0 c/doz

4.0 c/doz

Housing (estimate)

5.0 c/doz

5.0 c/doz

Miscellaneous and other*

9.2 c/doz

9.3 c/doz

* Adjusted January 2020 and used as a rounding factor


Ex Farm Margin (rounded to nearest cent) according to USDA values reflecting FEBRUARY 2020:-

68.9 cents per dozen1- 60.4 cents per dozen = +8.5

(Jan. 2020 comparison 52.91 cents per dozen – 60.8 cents per dozen = -7.9 cents per dozen.)

Note 1: USDA Blended egg price





Ex-farm Price (Large, White)

52.9 c/doz (Jan.)

68.9 c/doz (Feb.)


Cage-free to packing plant

153.0 c/doz (Jan.)

153.0 c/doz. (Feb.)


Warehouse/Dist. Center

78.0 c/doz (Jan.)

104.0 c/doz (Feb.)


Store delivered (estimate)

83.0 c/doz (Jan.)

109.0 c/doz (Feb.)


Dept. Commerce Retail

153.5 c/doz (Dec.)

146.1 c/doz (Jan.)

Layer Feed Cost



See note on source of data: now USDA

U.S. Average





$226.61/ton (West)

$225.39/ton (West)



$183.24/ton (MW)


$180.65/ton (MW)









Pullet Cost (19 Weeks) $3.83 JANUARY 2019 $3.81 FEBRUARY 2020












Table-egg strain eggs in incubators

47.8 million (Jan.)1

50.5 million (Feb.)

Pullet chicks hatched

23.1 million (Dec.)1

26.4 million (Jan.)

Pullets to be housed in 5 months

20.8 million (May ‘20)1

23.1 million (June)


National Flock in farms over 30,000

325.1 million (Dec.)

323.3 million (Jan.)

National egg-producing flock

341.2 million (Dec.)1

339.0 million (Jan.)


Proportion flock in molt or post-molt

13.5% (Jan.)

14.0% (Feb.)

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

284.4 million (Dec.)

278.0 million (Jan.)

1. USDA Update

Total U.S. Eggs produced

8.60 billion (Dec.)

8.51 billion (Jan.)

Cage-Free hens in production

69.7 million (Jan.)

22.5% Organic

69.7 million (Feb.)

22.5% Organic

“Top-5” States hen population (USDA)

168.6* million (Dec.)

168.3 (Jan.)

* Texas excluded to maintain confidentiality


Based on a nominal denominator of 320 million hens in flocks over 30,000.

USDA has amended inclusion of specific states in regions and eliminated Texas data to protect confidentiality of Company flock sizes






















Texas (estimate)

6.0% ?

6.0% ?






1. Values rounded to 0.1%

Rate of Lay, weighted hen-week (USDA) 80.9% (JANUARY) 81.0% (FEBRUARY)

Actual per capita egg consumption 2016:- 275.2 (up 19.8 from 2015)

Actual per capita egg consumption 2017:- 281.8 (up 6.6 from 2016)

Actual per capita egg consumption 2018:- 284.0 (up 2.2 from 2017)

Revised per capita egg consumption 2019:- 290.1 (up 6.1 from 2018)

Projected per capita egg consumption 2020:- 295.1 (up 5.0 from 2019)

*Revised, using data from USDA Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook February 18th 2019

Egg Inventories at beginning of FEBRUARY 2020:

Shell Eggs: 1.79 million cases down 12.7 percent from January.

Egg Products: 3.95 million case-equivalents up 9.7 percent from January.

Eggs broken under FSIS inspection (million cases) DECEMBER ‘19 7.087 JANUARY ‘20 7.464

Cumulative eggs broken under FSIS inspection 2019 (million cases) 82.9 JAN. to DEC.

Cumulative 2019: number of cases produced (million) 275.5 JAN. to DEC.

Cumulative 2019: proportion of total eggs broken 30.1%

Shell eggs broken January 2020:- 7.46 million cases equivalent to 31.6 percent of production.



EXPORTS DECEMBER 2019: ( Expressed as shell-equivalent cases of 360 eggs).



Quantity Exported



Shell Eggs (thousand cases)

JAN. 301 DEC. 356

Products (thousand case equivalents)

JAN. 437 DEC. 416

TOTAL (thousand case equivalents)*

JAN. 738 DEC. 772

*Representing 3.1 percent of National production in January 2020.





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).

From March 2019 onward some state data was withheld to maintain confidentiality where a company predominates in a specific state or region .

  • The USDA ex farm benchmark blended egg price in February 2020 increased by 30.2 percent or 16.0 cents per dozen from January 2020 to 68.9 cents per dozen, contributing to a positive margin of 8.5 cents per dozen based on ‘nest-run’ eggs (delivered from the laying house). The February 2020 USDA benchmark price of 68.9 cents per dozen should be compared to 69.8 cents per dozen for the corresponding month in 2019 and 120.7 cents per dozen in February 2018.

· During February 2020, the feed component of production cost averaged 31.1 cents per dozen, down 1.2 percent from January 2020. For 2019 average feed price was 31.4 cents per dozen. 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 8.5 cents per dozen at farm-level for flocks in February 2020 compared to a negative margin of 7.9 cents per dozen in January 2020. For the first two months of 2020 the algebraic margin was a positive 0.6 cents per dozen. The aggregate algebraic margin for 2019 was -33.3 cents per dozen or an average monthly loss of 2.8 cents per dozen.

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 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 2016 was a loss of 9.6 cents per dozen with negative values recorded for eight consecutive months.

· The simple average price of feed in February 2020 over 5-regions was $197.87 per ton, 1.2 percent lower (using USDA-AMS data) or $2.43 per ton compared to January 2020. Southwest data is no longer disclosed to avoid compromising a company that predominates in Texas. The highest cost among five regions was the West (including California) at $225.39 per ton compared to the lowest region, the Midwest at $180.65 per ton. The average figure includes ingredients plus milling and delivery at approximately $10 per ton.

· The benchmark price of corn was $150.59 per ton in February 2020, down $2.11 per ton or 1.4 percent lower than January 2020, taking into account the difference in basis. A decrease of $4.64 per ton or 1.5 percent in the price of soybean meal from $309.34 per ton in January 2020 to $304.70 per ton in February 2020 also contributed to the decrease in feed cost. There was a wider differential of $60.64 per ton in feed price between the Midwest and the West compared to $54.12 per ton in January. The differential in corn price between the Midwest and the West in February was $46.87 per ton ($46.96 in January 2020).

· 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 2020 include continued disruption of international trade due to tariffs imposed by China coupled with the emergence of coronavirus. Substantial exports of soybeans to China, when and if they occur will increase domestic price and hence cost of production. 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 2020 to be 60.4 cents per dozen, 0.4 cents per dozen lower than in January 2020. Production costs during February 2020 ranged from 57.3 cents per dozen in the Midwest up to 86.3 cents per dozen in California which was higher than the Midwest region by 29.0 cents per dozen.

· Retail egg prices as determined by the Department of Commerce for January 2020 averaged 146.1 cents per dozen, 7.4 cents per dozen or 4.8 percent lower than in December 2019. During January 2018 and 2019 retail prices were respectively 95.0 and 78.0 cents per dozen. During 2016 and extending through mid-2019, 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 2020 amounted to 323.3 million, reflecting a seasonal adjustment in flock size. The average total U.S. flock including hens in molt on all farms counted by the USDA amounted to 339.0 million in January 2020. 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 projected the January 2020 total flock at 341.6 million. The USDA recorded a total table-egg flock of 339.0 million. The December 2020 flock is projected to be 342.3 million.

· Pullet chick hatch was up 14.3 percent in January 2020 to 26.4 million compared to the previous month at 23.1 million. The high October 2019 value of 26.0 million was in anticipation of Easter 2020. It is evident that if lower than seasonal prices prevail after Easter, flock placements will be constrained by 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 14.0 percent of the national flock in February 2020, 3.7 percent lower than in January 2020. Annual averages were 15.2 percent for 2019, 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.

· The average monthly projection for pullets to be transferred to laying houses during the first quarter of 2020 will be 22.1 million and 21.9 million for the second quarter.

· The projected hatchery supply flock attained 2.5 million in January 2020. Peak parent-flock placements rose to 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 4th Quarter of 2016. Projections show monthly averages of 2.5 and 2.6 million breeder hens in production during the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2020.

· Average production of 81.0 percent in February 2020 compared to 80.9 percent in January 2020 reflects the relative number of young pullets approaching and attaining peak production as evidenced by the fluctuation in the price of Medium size eggs. Average rate of lay attained 78.7 percent during 2016, 79.8 percent in 2017 and 79.2 percent in 2018. The average rate of lay during any 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 biasing production to the first cycle.

  • The February 24th USDA Poultry Slaughter Report documented processing of 3.1 million light spent-hens under FSIS inspection during January 2020, up an anticipated 14.8 percent from December 2020. This was consistent with retention of flocks before Christmas and added to overproduction. 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, 301,000 cases of shell eggs were exported in January 2020, compared to 356,200 in December 2019, representing 1.3 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 January 2020 the following regions were the leading importers:- North America, comprising the two neighboring USMCA nations (40.1 percent, was 60.4 percent), East Asia (43.5 percent, was 32.0 percent). Shipments during January 2020 to the Middle East were increased to a monthly volume of 22,900 cases representing 7.6 percent of shell egg exports.

· Exports of egg products in January 2020 were up 5.1 percent from December 2019 to 436,800 case-equivalents, representing 1.9 percent of U.S. output. The following regions were the leading importers of egg products by proportion of volume shipped in January:- North America, our USMCA neighbors (40.4 percent), East Asia (29.1 percent), Southeastern Asia (8.3 percent), the EU-27+UK (2.5 percent) and the Caribbean (3.7 percent).

· Collectively, exports of shell eggs and products in January 2020 represented the output from approximately 9.9 million hens in production during the month, attaining 737,800 case-equivalents, down 4.4 percent from December 2020. This was a 23.1 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 that international markets are being regained.


Efforts in this respect are attributed to cooperation between the AEB and USAPEEC, both in existing and new markets. Specific attention is directed to nations with the potential to import U.S. product based on landed price against competition. Exports of both egg-products and shell eggs in January 2020 corresponded to 3.1 percent of a nominal national flock of approximately 325 million hens in production on commercial farms holding more than 30,000 hens.

· There is no scientifically justifiable 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.