US egg price at normal January level as trade rebounds from avian flu outbreak

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

US relied more heavily on egg imports during outbreak. Photo: iStock - caelmi
US relied more heavily on egg imports during outbreak. Photo: iStock - caelmi

Related tags Avian influenza Influenza

US egg pricing is at normal January levels following a surge sparked by last year’s avian flu outbreak.

A dozen breaking eggs – which hit a high of $2.39 on August 5 last year – are currently $0.53 according to commodity analysts Urner Barry.

'Eggs are irreplacable'

There is no single substitute that can replace all the functions eggs perform in all the types of baking products, AIB International technical services support provider Luis Belozerco told BakeryandSnacks.

“Eggs supply a stable emulsion that aids during mixing or whipping times,”​ he added. “No one can say they found an egg replacer that will work in every situation and in every circumstance.”

“If a formulation relies extensively on eggs, the baker will be missing several functions if eggs are reduced or removed.”

“The five-year average for January is $0.536, while the five-year annual average is $0.832. This puts today’s price in perspective with the norm,” ​said Urner Barry senior vice president Rick Brown.

Supply is rebounding

The egg supply has rebounded following a six-month avian flu outbreak that saw the industry lose more than 35 million laying hens, about 12% of all US laying hens, according to the American Egg Board.

Replacement of hens has added to the US eggs supply​,” said Egg Board senior vice president John Howeth.

During the avian influenza outbreak, the Egg Board’s strategy to deal with the supply issue was to rely on imports, reduce exports, divert inventory from the consumer trade and increase supply from unaffected areas of the country.

Egg breakers were disrupted

Several large egg breakers experienced disruption in supply, particularly those near layer farms in the Midwest where many of the outbreaks occurred.

Once an outbreak was detected, it not only affected the farm where the layers are housed, but it also affected the breaker operations, essentially stopping production of egg products​,” said Howarth.

He added that avian influenza was unpredictable.

“The egg industry is working closely with state and federal officials on key avian influenza response issues,”​ he said. “Egg producers are implementing biosecurity measures to mitigate transmission of the virus into the hen house.”

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