Egg prices appear to be taking a supply and demand market-driven tumble, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
Consumers might have noticed lower egg prices over recent weeks, and David Anderson, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension economist, Bryan-College Station, expects that trend to continue.
Egg supplies are still below where production was a year ago, but supplies continue to rise amid declining purchases, he said. Rising supplies and weaker demand are driving egg prices downward.
Producers continue to rebuild the table egg-laying flock that was hit hard by the avian flu outbreak beginning in February 2022. While egg production has increased, Anderson said demand typically dips after Easter before climbing again around Thanksgiving Day and through the fall holiday season.
“Some of the demand issue is seasonal, but consumer response to higher egg prices is also part of it,” he said. “Meanwhile egg producers continue to increase production, and the market is responding to the supply and demand factors. It’s a good example of how the market works.”
Egg prices falling
The U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Marketing Service reported retail eggs nationally were $2.74 per dozen between April 14-20 and were expected to be around $1.08 per dozen this week. Egg prices peaked at $4.82 in January, according to the Consumer Price Index.
Anderson expects the cost of a dozen eggs will continue to decline in other markets around Texas and the U.S. because wholesale prices are already down to 84 cents per dozen. Prices that low could be concerning for producers and are likely to trigger thoughts about slowing production growth. Declining costs for feed like soybean meal and corn are also helping livestock and poultry producers and may contribute to even lower prices.
Anderson noted that wholesale egg prices peaked at over $5 per dozen when eggs were hitting historic highs. On the other hand, retail prices did not reach $5. He suspects contracted prices may have held back wholesale costs grocers paid or that grocery stores strategized losses on eggs to keep customers.
“Consumers don’t react well when prices are so volatile, so some stores may have taken losses on eggs to keep people in their stores,” he said. “The falling wholesale egg prices could be a good indicator that the next Consumer Price Index might show falling retail prices.”
The contributing factors – increased production and supplies coupled with lower demand – are already pushing retail egg prices below $1 per dozen in about 1% of grocery stores surveyed in the South-Central U.S.
Avian flu causes significant poultry losses
Egg prices have been historically high over the past year. The decline in the number of table egg-laying hens in the U.S. contributed to this trend.
Since February 2022, a highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak has caused significant losses in the poultry industry. In total, 58.7 million poultry birds, including over 43 million laying hens, were lost in 47 states.
In December 2021, the U.S. flock had 327 million laying hens producing table eggs, and the average cost for a dozen eggs was $1.79. Egg prices climbed as outbreaks spread and reached $2.05 per dozen by March 2022. Prices continued to rise as egg-layer hen losses mounted, but historic production costs, including for feed, also contributed to the record-high prices consumers paid at grocery stores.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
Temperatures remained mild, and there was much-needed rain. The rainfall improved soil moisture levels that were short to adequate. Topsoil moisture levels were adequate for planting but too wet to run equipment in fields. More rain was in the forecast. Tanks were filling up but still needed runoff. Rivers and streams were flowing for the first time in a while. There was still a bit of cotton to plant and planted cotton was slow growing due to cool, wet conditions. Wheat and oat fields were mature; however, harvesting was very limited due to the moisture. Winter wheat was starting to die in the field. Some planted oats were grazed off. Corn and sorghum crops benefitted from the moisture and cooler weather patterns, but some producers noticed some corn chlorosis. Disease, insects and weed pressure were a big concern. The AgriLife Extension agent in Erath County received several calls about mesquite cutworms. Most peanuts were planted last week. Pecan growers started spraying for pecan nut casebearer. Pasture and rangeland conditions were fair to good. Areas that dried out enough got a good hay cutting in. Livestock were in good condition. Fly numbers were gradually increasing.
Almost all counties in the district reported light to moderate rains for the week. Farming activities were limited in areas that experienced heavier rains. More rain will be needed to ensure good soil moisture going into cotton planting and to get warm-season grasses off to a good start. Rains delayed wheat harvest, but most producers looked as though they would get started soon.
Rainfall ranged from 2-5 inches with hail reported in some areas. Wet soil conditions continued, and low-lying areas still had standing water in some cases. Warm and sunny conditions helped dry out some fields. Crops looked good. Rivers were running near a minor flood stage but were receding. Crop management was slowed but most producers should be able to start getting back in the fields soon. Wet weather was hard on cotton and soybeans. The majority of early planted corn, sorghum and cotton fields were in excellent shape. Later planted crops were starting to show signs of better than average yield potential. Replanted acres that were lost for various reasons also looked very promising. There was some yellowing on lower leaves on corn and grain sorghum due to excess moisture. Reports came in of some tip-back in corn due to pollination issues from rainfall and cloudy days. Fungicide applications were being made to corn via aerial application. Cotton was suffering from too much moisture and needed some sunshine and drier weather. Some cotton was yellowing but seemed to be returning to normal. Rangeland and pasture conditions were good to excellent. Hay production was expected to ramp up after pastures dry, and cuttings should be substantial. Weed pressure was very high in some areas due to poor conditions for applications. Livestock were in good shape, and calves continued to gain weight with the great grazing conditions. Cattle were in excellent condition with prices still holding very high.
Pastures and hay meadows remained very wet. Some producers were unable to get equipment in to fertilize or harvest. Pasture and rangeland conditions were good. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were adequate to surplus. Blackberries were being harvested. Gardens were growing and producing well. Cool-season vegetables continued to be harvested. Cattle markets remained strong. Ponds were full. Livestock were in fair to good condition with minimal supplementation taking place. Horn fly numbers increased, and feral hogs continued to be a problem.
The district received light showers to heavy rains with totals from trace amounts to 4 inches. Recent rains improved conditions for planting, livestock tanks and pastures. Irrigated corn was emerging and looked good. A few farmers started planting cotton. Most cotton farmers were waiting to see how much rain was received over the next few days before making planting decisions. Cattle were still grazing wheat and oats. Some grass was available in areas that received significant rain over the past few weeks.
Widespread rains were received across the district. The rainfall put a stop to small grain silage harvesting, but the moisture was beneficial for planting peanuts and cotton. The recent rains helped the soil moisture profile, and fields were in good condition. Most counties in the district reported adequate soil moisture. Temperatures and rainfall gave producers a little more confidence about planting crops. The forecast called for more rainfall over the next week which could slow down planting progress. Pastures and rangeland were in poor to good condition. Grasses and forbs benefited from the rains, and livestock were in good condition. Supplemental feeding continued on a small scale. Producers finished cutting and bailing hay which will help replenish hay supplies.
Pasture and rangeland conditions were fair to good in most counties. Subsoil and topsoil moisture levels were adequate to surplus. Conditions started off dry and warm with some counties receiving rain and thunderstorms toward the end of the week. Wheat, corn, grain sorghum, soybeans and cotton all looked good. Summer grasses were thriving. Ryegrass was being cut. Corn was nearing the silking stage. Nuisance fly numbers were increasing significantly and mosquitoes were also thriving in the wet conditions. Livestock body conditions were good and continuing to improve.
Daytime temperatures were in the upper 70s to lower 80s with overnight temperatures in the 60s. Sporadic showers improved soil moisture in parts of the district. There were some reports of 0.5-2.5 inches of rainfall. Hail damaged some cotton, pecans and watermelons, as well as farm equipment, homes and barns. Planting was delayed by moisture, and the planting window was tightening. Some producers were planting cotton to take advantage of the moisture, but not all fields were prepared for planting. Farmers were still listing fields and having to relist fields due to heavy wind erosion. Producers were optimistic about rangeland conditions for the summer and fall. Weeds were becoming more of a problem, as growers did not have time to spray weeds and plant at the same time. Pasture grasses were beginning to green up for the first time in a long time. Livestock were in poor to fair condition, and producers were still providing supplemental feed. Rio Grande project water was available to producers in El Paso County who had been using well water or effluent from the city. Pecan orchards were being sprayed with zinc. Pima and upland cotton stands looked excellent. Alfalfa looked fair, and later-planted stands were a bit weedy.
Rainfall amounts averaged 1-4 inches. Soil moisture levels were improving. Some stock tanks caught water. Conditions were relatively warm. Cotton planting was following the moisture. The moisture helped sorghum and corn growth significantly. Warm-season grasses were flourishing, and some warm-season forage fields and pastures were being fertilized and sprayed for weeds. Small grains were being cut and baled. Wheat farmers were harvesting grain, and fair yields were reported. Some wheat producers reported above-average yields. Sudan grass looked good, and Coastal Bermuda grass was taking off under warmer temperatures. Forage sorghum planting continued, and early planted fields were in excellent condition. The pecan crop was off to a good start. Rangeland and pastures benefited from recent moisture and continued to show improvement. Spring cattle work continued. Livestock looked good, but some light dietary supplementation continued. Cattle prices and demand remained strong. Some freeze damage in turfgrasses and some trees was reported.
Parts of the district received rainfall, including more than 3 inches in Brazos County. Soil moisture levels were adequate to surplus. Pastures were wet following rain. Pastures and rangelands were in poor to excellent condition. Flooding was reported in some low-lying fields and pastures. Hay cuttings could be delayed by rain but were likely to ramp up as conditions dry. Rice was planted, but lower nighttime temperatures were stunting the growth.
Temperatures remained seasonably cool. Most areas received 1-1.75 inches of rainfall, which improved soil moisture levels. Earlier planted sorghum fields were heading. Pollination was underway in corn fields. Vegetable gardens were doing well. Oats and wheat harvest were underway, but some producers were delayed by rain. Rangeland and pasture conditions were improving, and warm-season grasses were growing. Grazing conditions were fair overall. Spring flows improved following the rainfall. The moisture slowed hay cutting. Hay crops looked good, and cutting and baling activities were underway where possible. Beef cattle body condition scores averaged 4-5. Livestock and wildlife were in fair to good condition and supplemental feeding was light. Cooler weather and a chance of rain was in the forecast.
Topsoil and subsoil conditions were still adequate, but higher temperatures were starting to dry soils. Grain sorghum was coming along well and should begin heading soon. Corn was progressing well. Cotton, sesame and sunflowers were still being planted, and peanut planting was slowly starting. Some sunflower fields were in full bloom. Sorghum was showing signs of aphids and midge. Wheat harvest was delayed, and delays were expected to impact yields. Fertilizer and herbicide applications were ongoing in improved pastures. Strawberry harvest was moving along, but weather and temperatures were making it a challenge. However, the cooler temperatures have allowed plants to continue producing. Cattle prices continued to increase across all classes. Rangeland and pasture conditions were good to excellent. Livestock and wildlife were doing excellent, and ranchers were working cattle and selling the fall calf crop. Quail have paired up, and a few coveys with hatchlings were observed. Feral hogs were impacting crop production. Livestock and wildlife body conditions were improving. Sale volumes at one livestock market dropped from 922 sales to 428 with steady to higher prices for all classes of beef cattle. Hay grazer was growing rapidly and should be ready for baling in the coming weeks. Irrigation stopped on citrus and sugarcane for a few days due to the rainfall received.
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Author: Adam Russell
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