Egg Week

07/03/2024

USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, July 3rd 2024.

 

Market Overview

  • The average wholesale unit revenue values for Midwest Extra-large and Large sizes were down 4.8 percent on average this past week. Medium size was down 2.9 percent. National wholesale price for graded loose on June 28th at $1.96 per dozen was approximately $0.66 per dozen above the 3-year average of $1.30 per dozen and up $1.14 from the corresponding week in 2023 at $0.85 per dozen. This past week shell egg inventory was down 2.8 percent, reversing the rise of 1.8 percent in stock during the previous week. Despite decreased inventory but with falling prices in early summer narrower margins can be expected for producers through the current quarter as depleted flocks are replaced. Higher prices compared to 2023 are attributed to losses due to HPAI depletion reducing the national flock by 20 to 22 million hens.
  • Although there are weekly transfers of mature pullet flocks to laying houses, hen numbers are constrained by depopulation due to HPAI. Close to 13 million hens were lost during the 4th Quarter of 2023 that have not yet been completely replaced. During April 2024 almost 8.4 million hens were depopulated with an additional 5.7 million during May.
  • This past week, chains apparently narrowed the spread between delivered cost and shelf price. This could result in a continued fall in generic stock given reduced supply despite softening demand. Stock level will depend on constant re-ordering to fill the pipeline through July especially after the Independence Day holiday weekend. Discounters are holding prices on generics influencing mainstream retail stores. Eggs are still highly competitive in price against the comparable costs for other protein foods.
  • Total industry inventory was down by 4.0 percent overall this past week at 1.53 million cases with a concurrent 8.2 percent increase in breaking stock, following a 1.5 percent rise during the preceding processing week. Demand for egg products fell through late May attributed to less home-baking and entertaining. Egg products are required for the food service and manufacturing sectors and for exports that have shown marked monthly fluctuation year-to-date.
  • It is now apparent that the inventory held by chains and other significant distributors may be more important over the short term in establishing wholesale price compared to the USDA regional inventory figures. Changes in stock held by DCs and in the pipeline as determined by weekly orders are probably responsible for up to 4 percent cyclic fluctuation in weekly industry stock, especially into and after a holiday weekend.
  • The number and extent of future possible HPAI outbreaks during the fall months of 2024 cannot be projected but sporadic cases in backyard poultry, isolation from wild migratory and predatory birds and close to 140 dairy herds in twelve states is a cause for concern. More surveillance information should be released by USDA-APHIS as it becomes available concerning the prevalence rate of avian carriers of H5N1 among resident domestic free-living birds together with a review of molecular and field epidemiology for the current spring and future fall waves of HPAI. The USDA has yet to identify and release specific modes of transmission for the 2022-2024 epornitic including likely airborne spread from wild birds and their excreta over short distances.
  • The current relationship between producers and chain buyers based on a single commercial price discovery system constitutes an impediment to a free market. The benchmark price appears to amplify both downward and upward swings as evidenced over the past two years. A CME quotation based on Midwest Large, reflecting demand relative to supply would be more equitable. If feed cost is determined by CME ingredient prices then generic shell eggs should be subject to a Midwest Large quotation.
  • On July 3rd the stated total flock of 304.5 million included about one million molted hens that will resume lay during coming weeks plus 4.5 to 5.0 million pullets scheduled to attain production. Given the latest figures it is estimated that the total flock is at least 20 to 22 million hens lower than the 326 million before the onset of HPAI in 2022. The April loss of 8.4 million followed by 5.7 million in May does not appear to be reflected in the latest release of data although total flock was unchanged this past week. Figures released on July 3rd may overestimate flock size especially if the 4.3 million hens in Iowa confirmed on May 28th are not accounted for.
  • The ex-farm price for breaking stock (rounded to one cent) was down 3.7 percent to $1.70 per dozen. Checks delivered to Midwest plants were up 2.5 percent to $1.61 per dozen this past week. Prices for breaking stock generally follow the wholesale price for shell eggs usually with a lag of one to two weeks.

 

The Week in Review

 

Prices

 

According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports released on July 1st 2024, the Midwest wholesale price (rounded to one cent) for Extra-large was down 4.8 percent from last week to $2.39 per dozen. Large was down 8.4 percent to $2.37 per dozen. Mediums were down 2.9 percent to $2.05 per dozen delivered to DCs suggesting a diminishing supply of this size as young pullets transition to production of Large size. It is emphasized that these prices are for one week ago.

 

Prices should be compared to the USDA benchmark average 4-Region blended nest-run cost of 77.9 cents per dozen as determined by the Egg Industry Center based on USDA data for May 2024. This value excludes provisions for packing, packaging materials and transport, amounting to 57 cents per dozen as determined in mid-2023 from an EIC survey (with a low response) and now realistically 60 cents per dozen.

 

Currently producers of generic shell eggs should be operating with positive margins irrespective of region and customer-supply agreements. The progression of prices during 2023 and 2024 to date is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

 

The June 27th edition of the USDA Egg Markets Overview confirmed that the USDA Combined Region cartoned value (rounded to the nearest cent), was down 0.8 percent to $2.58 per dozen delivered to warehouses. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $2.49 per dozen. At the high end of the range, the price in the South Central region attained $2.65 per dozen.

 

Flock Size

 

Previously the loss of approximately 13 million hens due to HPAI during the fourth quarter of 2023 was not reflected in weekly USDA figures until the beginning of February 2024. The loss of 8.6 million hens in April is now reflected in the most recent weekly data. There is a question concerning the 5.7 million depopulated in May although the total flock on July 3rd was unchanged from the previous week. Any delay in posting accurate updated data should be avoided given the importance of weekly flock numbers to pricing. Accurate values for both the producing and total flock are required by farmers, packers, breakers and buyers.

 

According to the USDA the number of producing hens reflecting July 3rd 2024 (rounded to 0.1 million) was unchanged at 299.0 million suggesting increased depletion to balance placement of started pullets. The total U.S. flock includes about one million molted hens due to return to production Approximately 4.5 to 5.0 million pullets on average reach maturity each week, based on USDA monthly chick-hatch data for 20-weeks previously. The increase is offset by routine flock depletion and an additional loss of approximately 14.1 million year-to-date. Some flocks have been replaced on a rotational basis and flock depletion delayed subject to available housing. Based on inventory level and prices, the population of hens producing table eggs and breaking stock should now be in balance with early summer demand by consumers. Industrial and food service off-take is increasing, attaining pre-COVID levels. Prices will continue to decline but have shown atypical seasonal stability instead of a traditional decline.

 

According to the USDA the total U.S. egg-flock on July 3rd 2024 was stated to be unchanged at 304.5 million hens including second-cycle birds and those in molt. The losses in April and presumably mid-March have now belatedly been taken into account but not the 4.3 million in Iowa and the loss of over a million in a fire in Illinois. Data for the past two weeks presumes that molted hens are resuming production consistent with projected pre-holiday demand. Given the season and the trajectory in benchmark wholesale prices, producers are retaining as many hens as allowed by capacity. At present it is estimated that there are approximately 20 to 22 million fewer hens in the total flock that now include cases of HPAI through mid-May. The apparent difference is equivalent to about 6.5 to 7.5 percent of the pre-HPAI 2022 national flock of 326 million hens.

!More!

INVENTORY LEVELS

Cold storage stock of frozen products in selected centers on July 1st 2024 was 2.351 million lbs. (1,069 metric tons), almost unchanged from last week and 0.3 percent down from the 2.357 million lbs. on June 1st 2024. The monthly USDA Cold Storage Report below quantified an increase in the actual total stock level at the end of March.

 

The most recent monthly USDA Cold Storage Report released on June 25th 2024 documented a total stock of 30.0 million pounds (13,648 metric tons) of frozen egg products on May 31st 2024. This quantity was up 1.5 percent from the May 31st 2023 value of 30.5 million pounds. May 31st 2024 frozen egg inventory was up 4.1 percent from the previous month ending April 30th 2024 attributed to presumably lower domestic demand and exports or their combination. Compared to May 31st 2023, the inventory of whites was down 13.0 percent to 2.62 million lbs. on May 31st 2024. Compared to May 31st 2023 yolk inventory was down 26.1 percent to 809,000 lbs. on May 31st 2024.

 

A total of 88.6 percent (26.6 million lbs.) of combined inventory comprised the categories of “Whole and Mixed” (41.4 percent) and “Unclassified” (47.2 percent). The lack of specificity in classification requires a more diligent approach to enumerating and reporting inventory by the USDA.

 

 

Shell Inventory

 

The USDA reported that the national stock of generic shell eggs effective July 1st 2024 was down 4.0 percent over the previous week. Inventory over the past week followed a rise of 1.8 percent the previous week confirming a balance between supply against demand by retailers in late- June. Combined with breaking stock, the total inventory of shell eggs in industry cold rooms is now at a rounded level of 1.53 million cases rounded (1.60 million last week; down 63,400 cases this week). The U.S. population of laying hens at this time is influenced by:-

 

  • Losses following outbreaks of HPAI with the depopulation of over 13.0 million hens during the fourth quarter of 2023 and 15.2 million hens since April 1st including 5.7 million in May 2024. Losses are offset by approximately 22 million pullets transferred each month over the first half of 2024
  • The population unaffected by HPAI.
  • Flocks retained after molting with an anticipated increase in this category as influenced by prevailing wholesale egg prices, and indirectly responding to flock depopulation from HPAI.
  • Started pullets from chick placements during early January 2024. Going forward, younger hens will assume a larger proportion of the national flock as more flocks are placed compensating for the flocks depleted due to HPAI.

 

Five USDA Regions reported lower stock levels this past week. The six regions are listed in descending order of stock: -

  • The Midwest Region was down 7.2 percent from the previous week to 386,500 cases.
  • The Southeast Region was down 1.7 percent to 263,200 cases
  • The South Central Region was down 1.0 percent to 228,400 cases
  • The Northeast Region was up 5.8 percent to 181,000 cases
  • The Southwest Region was down 4.1 percent to 105,000 cases.
  • The Northwest Region was down 6.4 percent to 58,600 cases

 

The total USDA six-area stock of commodity eggs comprised 1,533,800 cases (1,597,200 cases last week), down 4.0 percent, of which 79.7 percent were shell eggs (78.8 percent last week). The inventory of breaking stock was down 8.2 percent to 311,100 cases. Shell-egg inventory was down 2.8 percent attaining 1,222,700 cases. These changes are a function of regional shell-egg demand coupled with more regular re-stocking despite buyers apparently taking advantage of the industry benchmark price discovery system. Reoccurrence of HPAI even in turkeys will influence buyers who were previously unconcerned over short-term availability.

 

The average price for Midwest checks and breaking stock combined was higher at 69.7 percent of the average value of Midwest Extra-large and Large shell eggs, consistent with the differential in prices for shell eggs (down 4.8 percent) compared to disproportionately higher prices for breaking stock and checks (down 1.2 percent) on average this past week. The differential of 69.7 percent can be compared to 80.0 percent in April 2022 reflecting the initial period of high demand for both shell eggs and products following losses due to HPAI. This demonstrates the respective demands for shell eggs and egg products and the interconnectivity of the packing and breaking segments of the egg industry under circumstances of extreme disturbances in either supply (lower due to HPAI in 2022) or demand (higher during early COVID in 2020). The relative prices for breaking stock and checks are influenced by the actual demand for generic shell eggs and contract obligations with breakers.

 

On July 1st 2023 the inventory of other than generic eggs amounting to 395,600 cases (down 4.3 percent from last week at 413,300 cases) among three categories (with the previous week in parentheses) comprised: -

  • Specialty category, down 6.9 percent to 37,300 cases. (was down 14.5% to 40,000 cases)
  • Certified Organic, up 9.2 percent to 74,400 cases. (was up 12.8% to 68,100 cases)
  • Cage-Free category, down 7.0 percent to 283,900 cases. (was up 5.9% to 305,200 cases)

 

Demand for cage-free product will not increase materially over the intermediate term while generic eggs from caged flocks and some surplus down-classified cage-free eggs are on the shelf at $2.40 to $2.60 per dozen during normal supply and demand conditions. Currently there is a small differential in shelf price between conventional caged eggs compared to cage-free white but a wider difference between higher priced omega-3 enriched, cage-free, free-range and pasture-housed products. That the higher priced egg categories will experience an erosion in demand if generic prices fall is supported by the findings of a comprehensive review relating to the transition from cages to alternative systems.*

 

Existing and proposed individual state legislation mandating sale of only cage-free eggs will support most of the completed and in-progress transition from cages but significant additional re-housing will not be completed by the beginning of 2025, less than seven months away and clearly never, as projected by most industry observers. The constitutional status of Proposition #12 was confirmed by SCOTUS in a May 11th 2023 decision with specific reference to the dormant Commerce Clause relating to interstate trade. In June 2024 the 9th Circuit of the Federal Appeals Court rejected a challenge to CA Proposition #12 by pork producers. It is questionable whether a legislative initiative (the EATS Act) will be incorporated into the 2023 Farm Bill that will be delayed to September 2024 or even early 2025 due to intra-Committee and inter-Chamber deadlock. Many retail chains are ‘renEGGing’ on or extending their time commitments to achieve an acceptable transition to cage-free eggs despite coercion by animal welfare groups. Consumers purchase less-expensive brown cage-free product over organic eggs when there is a differential in price greater than about $1.20 per dozen under normal conditions of supply and demand. Similarly, consumers will traditionally purchase white-shelled generic eggs in preference to white or brown-shelled cage-free with a differential of over $1.20 per dozen.

 

A comprehensive structured market research project on cage-free eggs has provided an indication of consumer willingness to pay for this attribute. The industry requires a study on other aspects including shell color, GM status and nutritional enrichment using conjoint analysis. Above all, agricultural economists should evaluate the impact of disruption in supply and demand arising from large-scale depopulation following the 2015 and 2022-2024 HPAI epornitics including the current wave of outbreaks.

*Caputo,V. et al The Transition to Cage-Free Eggs. February 2023

 

RELATIVE PRICES OF SHELL-EGG CATEGORIES

 

USDA-AMS posted the following national shell egg prices as available, for June 27th 2024 for the preceding week in the Egg Markets Overview report representing dozen cartons with comparable prices in parentheses for the previous week: -

 

Retail Prices

Large, in cartons generic white: $1.73 Down 13.1 percent ($1.72)

Large, in cartons cage-free brown: $3.30 Up 2.2 percent ($2.60)

 

Wholesale

Midwest in cartons $2.50 Down 0.8 percent ($2.52)

Large C-F, California in Cartons: $3.14 Up 0.3 percent ($3.10)

National loose, (FOB dock): $1.96 Down 13.2 percent ($1.73)

NYC in cartons to retailer: $2.48 Down 5.0 percent ($2.61)

 

Regional in cartons to warehouse reported June 27th for the previous week.

Midwest $2.49 Down 0.8 percent ($2.51)

Northeast $2.54 Down 0.8 percent ($2.56)

Southeast $2.63 Down 0.8 percent ($2.65)

South Central $2.65 Down 0.7 percent ($2.67)

Combined $2.58 Down 0.8 percent ($2.60)

 

WEEKLY ADVERTISED PRICES OF SHELL-EGG CATEGORIES W/E July 4th

USDA Certified Organic, Brown, Large: $4.46 ($4.46)

Cage-Free Brown, Large: $3.15 ($3,21)

Omega-3 Enriched Specialty, White, Large: $2.59 ($2.35)

Generic White, Large Grade A $1.73 ($1.99)

* USDA revision

 

The advertised price for Large white grade A as featured for the week ending July 4th at $1.73 per dozen, (850 stores, more promotions) down $0.26 or 13.1 percent compared to $1.99 per dozen last week, continues oscillation in weekly advertised retail prices on promotion. Current supply is slightly above demand reflecting the declining number of features over the past three weeks and with stable to lower inventory held by the industry as reported by the USDA. Independent producers continue to divert shell eggs from breaking to the higher-priced shell market. Integrated companies and packers continued to deliver to DCs.

 

The USDA benchmark-advertised retail price for certified organic for the week was $4.46 per dozen, (1,978 stores), unchanged from the USDA price of $4.46 per dozen posted last week. A USDA advertised price of $3.15 per dozen was posted for cage-free brown during the past week (1,176 stores), down 0.06 per dozen or 1.9 percent from last week at $3.21 per dozen. The price differential between USDA organic and cage-free brown amounting to $1.31 per dozen will result in higher demand for cage-free brown eggs over certified organic. Week-over-week single digit fluctuations expressed as a percentage can be expected in the stock of specialty and organic eggs based on the small base of these categories.

 

Cage-free brown at $3.15 per dozen were $1.45 per dozen (32.` percent) lower than cage-free white at $4.64 per dozen (135 stores).

 

Certified organic was promoted this past week at 33.0 percent of the total, consistent with higher inventory, (last week 15.7 percent of features). Omega-3 enriched comprised 26.1 percent of features with lower inventory (36.3 percent last week). Cage-free comprised 26.8 percent of features with considerably lower stock (42.0 percent last week). Large was featured this past week representing 14.2 percent of features compared to 5.6 percent last week.

 

USDA Cage-Free Data

 

According to the latest monthly USDA Cage-free Hen Report released on July 1st 2024, the number of certified organic hens in June was down 3.0 percent from May 2024 to 19.8 million, (rounded to 0.1 million) despite depopulation due to HPAI.

 

The USDA reported that the cage-free (non-organic) flock in June 2024 was down 0.9 percent from May 2024 to 101.4 million, (rounded to 0.1 million).

 

According to the USDA the population of hens producing cage-free and certified organic eggs in June 2024 comprised: -

Total U.S. flock held for USDA Certified Organic production = 19.8 million (18.3 million in Q1 2024).

Total U.S. flock held for cage-free production = 101.4 million (105.7 million in Q1 2024).

Total U.S. non-caged flock = 121.2 million (124.0 million in Q1 2024).

 

This total value represents 37.1 percent (May 37.5 percent) of a nominal 326 million total U.S. flock pre-HPAI in 2022 but 40.9 percent of the national flock after HPAI mortality to a presumed complement of 296 million in production. Hens certified under the USDA Organic program have decreased in proportion to cage-free flocks since Q1 of 2021.

 

Since April 1st losses due to HPAI have included 6.1 million cage free and 1.9 million organic hens.

 

The accuracy of individual monthly values was previously questioned given a history of either constant numbers or a sharp change in successive months as documented over the past two years. The values in the May 1st Cage-Free report reflect depopulation during April. It is anticipated that the July release will reflect a realistic number of producing hens housed cage-free during June 2024. Precise quarterly reports would be more suitable for the industry in planning expansion and allocation of capital than inaccurate monthly values.

 

Processed Eggs

 

For the processing week ending June 29th 2024 the quantity of eggs processed under FSIS inspection during the week as reported on July 3rd 2024 was down 1.5 percent compared to the previous processing week to a level of 1,403,387 cases, (1,424,413 cases last week). The proportion of eggs broken by in-line complexes was 48.2 percent with diversion to higher-priced shell markets by uncommitted producers. (48.1 percent processed in-line for the previous week). The differential in price for shell sales and breaking will determine the movement of uncommitted eggs. This past week 70.5 percent of egg production was directed to the shell market, (70.0 percent for the previous week), responding to the differential in prices paid by breakers and packers. Breaking stock inventory was down 8.2 percent this past week to 311,100 cases. Apparent demand from QSRs and casual dining is at stable to slightly lower levels. There is ongoing demand from baking and eat-at-home despite the weekly fluctuation in the inventory of breaking stock. During the corresponding processing week in 2023 in-line breakers processed 53.7 percent of eggs broken.

 

For the most recent monthly report reflecting May 2024, yield from 7,501,232 cases (5,808,758 cases in April) denoted an increase in demand for liquid and diversion to shell egg sales over the period April 28th 2024 through June 1st 2024. Edible yield was 38.9 percent, distributed in the following proportions expressed as percentages: liquid whole, 61.8; white, 24.6; yolk, 13.1; dried, 3.7.

 

All eggs broken during 2023 attained 69.78 million cases, 8.4 percent less than 2022. Eggs broken in 2024 to date amounted to 37.06 million cases, 3.3 percent less than the corresponding period in 2023. Weekly changes are attributed to fluctuations in demand for egg liquids from retail, food service and QSRs and casual dining restaurants. Consumers are constrained by economic uncertainty following the ending of COVID support, moderate inflation, high credit card interest rates, mortgage repayments or rent and a tendency to purchase only essentials.

 

PRODUCTION AND PRICES

 

Breaking Stock

 

The average rounded price for breaking stock was down 3.7 percent this past week to $1.70 per dozen with an extreme range of $1.65 to $1.74 per dozen delivered to Central States plants on July 1st. The price of checks was up 2.5 percent this past week to an average of $1.61 per dozen over the most frequent range of $1.60 to $1.62 per dozen suggesting that the market for breaking stock follows prices for shell eggs following pronounced up or down swings.

 

Shell Eggs

 

The USDA Egg Market News Report dated July 1st 2024 confirmed that Midwest wholesale prices for Extra-large and Large were down 4.8 percent and Medium size was 2.9 percent lower from the previous week. A 2.8 percent lower shell egg inventory combined with a small increase in benchmark price, confirms that the market is operating in balance between supply relative to declining late spring demand. The following table lists the “most frequent” ranges of values as delivered to warehouses*:-

 

Size/Type

Current Week

Previous Week

Extra Large

237-240 cents per dozen

249-252 down 4.8%

Large

235-238 cents per dozen

247-250 down 4.8%

Medium

203-206 cents per dozen

209-212 down 2.9%

Processing:-

 

 

Breaking stock

165-174 cents per dozen

168-185 down 3.7%

Checks

160- 162 cents per dozen

156-158 up 2.5%

 

The July 1st 2024 Midwest Regional (IA, WI, MN.) average FOB producer price, for nest-run, grade-quality white shelled Large size eggs, with prices in rounded cents per dozen was down 5.7 percent from last week, (with the previous week in parentheses): -

EL. $2.23 ($2.34), (estimated by proportion): L. $2.16 ($2.29): M. $1.80 ($1.91)

 

The July 1st 2024 California negotiated price per dozen for cage-free, certified Proposition #12 compliant Large size in cartons delivered to a DC, (with the previous week in parentheses) was unchanged from last week, despite depopulation of a third of the laying hens in the state during the 4th quarter of 2023 but offset by replacement pullets and constant introduction of eggs from Midwest and Southwest supplying states.

EL. $3.22 ($3.22); L. $3.14 ($3.14); M. $2.88 ($2.88)

 

Shell-Egg Demand Indicator

 

The USDA-AMS Shell Egg Demand Indicator reported on July 3rd 2024 was up 3.3 points from the last weekly report to +0.7 with a 4.0 percent decrease in total inventory and a 2.8 percent lower shell inventory from the past week as determined by the USDA-ERS as follows: -

Productive flock

298,956,406 million hens* (<0.1%)

Average hen week production

81.7% (was 81.5%)

Average egg production

244,282,460 per day (up 0.2%)

Proportion to shell egg market

70.5% (was 70.0%)

Total for in-shell consumption

478,079 cases per day (up 0.9%)

USDA Table-egg inventory

1,222,700 cases (down 2.8%)

26-week rolling average inventory

4.16 days

Actual inventory on hand

4.13 days

Shell Egg Demand Indicator

+0.7 points (was -2.6 on June 27th 2024)

* USDA value questioned.

 

The USDA Monthly Report covering May 2024 production including text, tables, data and prices and the 3rd Quarter results for Cal-Maine Foods can be accessed under the STATISTICS tab

 

Dried Egg Products

 

The USDA extreme range in prices for dried albumen and yolk products in $ per lb. was released on June 28th 2024. Data for yolk and whole egg powder over the past week was available from the USDA. Values are depicted for the previous week and in parentheses for the week before that. Values for past months illustrate the trend in prices influenced by HPAI depopulation and subsequent repopulation:-

Whole Egg

 

 

No release

($5.00 to $6.50)

 

 

Average

 

March $ 5.85

April $ 5.80

May $ 5.14

June $ 5.88

 

Yolk

No listing

($4.75 to $5.80)

Average

 

March $ 4.71

April $ 4.76

May $ 4.58

June $ 5.23

Spray-dried white

No quotation, past week

Average Dec ‘22. $14.18

Jan. $14.18

Feb. onwards ’24 No release

Blends

 

No quotation, past week

 

 

 

Frozen Egg Products

 

The USDA posted the range in prices for frozen egg products for the past week. Prices in cents per lb. based on the range on June 28th 2024 compared to the previous week showed fluctuation in price:-

Whole Egg

$1.55 - $1.751

$1.55 - $1.751

White1

$1.14 - $1.601

$1.14 - $1.601

Average for Yolks

$2.24 - $2.601

$2.22 - $2.601

1. extreme range

Whole egg: Unchanged. Whites: Unchanged and Yolks: up 0.4%.

This indicated stable demand for all categories from manufacturing, food service and export at higher prices.

June averages (May): Whole. $1.56, ($1.13); Whites, $1.33, ($1.14); Yolks, $2.37, ($2.14).

 

Liquid Egg Products

 

Values for Whites and Yolks covering certified truckload quantities have been released at irregular intervals over past months. There was no listing for the past week. Whole egg values attained on average 143 cents per lb. the previous week. June averages (cents per lb.) for certified are compared with May values (in parentheses): -

 

Whole, $1.34, ($0.91); Whites, $0.98 ($0.78); Yolks, $1.96, ($1.83). (certified)

 

The USDA has not released a report on dried egg inventory since March 13th 2020 due to inability to obtain data from producers, and will not issue reports for the immediate future.

 

COMMENTS

 

Outbreaks of H5N1 HPAI still occur in commercial turkeys. Incident cases are diagnosed in backyard flocks and presumably free-living predatory birds and in scavenging carnivorous mammals. The H5N1 infection has now been recognized as bovine influenza-A in approximately 140 diagnosed dairy herds in twelve states. Given the prevailing risks and consequences of infection it will be necessary to continue to maintain high levels of structural and operational biosecurity in poultry operations with intensification persisting through June at least. Outbreaks in commercial flocks in early 2024 were correlated with shedding of AI virus by migratory birds that moved southward later than normal and were driven to overwintering habitat by delayed sharply colder weather in January. Northward migration is almost complete but additional outbreaks can be anticipated

 

Approximate losses in commercial flocks confirmed with HPAI and updates during the 2022/3 phases of the ongoing epornitic included:-

 

  • 6,900,000 broilers on 28 farms in 8 states during 2002 - 2023
  • 330,000 broiler breeders on 11 farms in 6 states.
  • 360,000 upland game birds October through December 2023.
  • 14,100,000 turkeys including breeder flocks in 8 states during 2022 and through 2023 year-to-date. During the past nine weeks losses have approximated 2.9 million growing turkeys with 63 incident cases confirmed in seven states (SD; ND; UT; MN; IA; WI, MI.).
  • 52,300,000 egg-production hens in total with 95 percent on 37 large complexes above 0.5 million in addition to 3,500,000 pullets with a total of 54 locations in 12 states. Pullet mortality does not include “at risk” replacements depleted on affected complexes with contiguous pullet rearing. During the fourth quarter of 2023 more than 13.0 million hens were depopulated in 13 outbreaks.

 

Losses reported in 2024 to date include:-

  • 14 million egg-producing hens and 1.3 million replacement pullets
  • 1.2 million commercial meat turkeys
  • 0.7 million broilers
  • Various semi-commercial flocks and game-birds

 

Losses due to HPAI reported by USDA during the week ending June 28th included two turkey growing flocks with a total of 92,000 birds Minnesota. Cases in non-commercial flocks included CO (2) and MN (1)

 

Backyard flocks (non-WOAH) allowed outside access will continue to be at risk of infection in the U.S. These small clusters of birds in both suburban and rural areas are of minimal significance to the epidemiology of avian influenza as it affects the commercial industry. Backyard flocks serve as indicators of the presence of virus among free-living birds as evidenced by ongoing outbreaks in commercial poultry flocks across the U.S. The late 2023- 2024 epornitic evidently has a long tail. Recent outbreaks in backyard flocks especially in northern tier states suggest shedding by resident, non-migratory free-living birds that may have become reservoirs. This has implications for seasonality and endemnicity.

 

The USDA-APHIS published a report on the results of epidemiologic studies* on farms in early 2022 and made available on July 25th. Results for 18 egg-production case farms and 22 control farms suggested higher risk of infection associated with the presence of a farm in a control zone, proximity of wild birds, mowing or bush hogging of vegetation adjacent to the farm, and off-site disposal of routine mortality. These factors suggest possible aerogenous introduction of virus shed by wild birds onto farms over short distances. This presumption is based on anacdotal observations and recent published research from Taiwan demonstrating avian influenza virus in air in proximity to migratory birds. A paper on wind-borne dissemination of HPAI during the 2003 epornitic was published in 2012. The preliminary USDA study predictably suggested that protection was enhanced by effective structural and operational biosecurity. The validity of findings was limited by the confounding inherent to the diversity in size of flocks incorporated into the case-control study and deriving data from a 26 page questionnaire by telephone survey, months after outbreaks, introducing recollection bias and responder fatigue.

 

*Green, A. et al Investigation of risk factors for introduction of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus onto table egg farms in the United States, 2022: a case-control study. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. Doi: 10.3389/vets.2023.1229008

 

It is hoped that APHIS recognises the need to provide the industry with science-based recommendations to prevent additional incident HPAI outbreaks. This presumes prompt analysis and reporting of whatever field and molecular epidemiology is collected. APHIS is presumed to have planned epidemiologic field studies and allocated personnel and other resources in anticipation of a spring 2024 resurgence in HPAI. Given that large complexes in six states were infected during November and December 2023 and again in April and May 2024, appropriate guidance from USDA-APHIS is anticipated by the Industry for the reoccurence in progress. A release on the investigation of risk factors associated with outbreaks in dairy herds and a comment on whether mutations have occurred in viruses isolated from infected animals would be instructive.


































































































































































































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