Egg prices lower than last year, but could see seasonal spike
COLLEGE STATION – Consumers could see a seasonal spike in egg prices as demand increases for baking and dying associated with the Easter holiday, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
Dr. Craig Coufal, AgriLife Extension poultry specialist, College Station, said other factors such as feed prices and flock numbers remain stable. Any increases will be based simply on supply and demand, he said.
“Price increases are a seasonal pattern because we can’t just make chickens lay more or less eggs,” Coufal said. “This time of year, we’ll typically see two to three weeks of decreased egg stocks because egg consumption goes up for all the baking and dying for Easter egg hunts.”
Coufal said egg production has stabilized following a few years of chaotic pricing after a major avian influenza outbreak impacted laying hens in 2015. Production levels took a few years to normalize as flock sizes recovered, then fluctuated as the market corrected.
Prices are 21 cents lower on average in the U.S. from January 2018 to January 2019, $1.55 per dozen compared to $1.76, according to the Egg Industry Center. But prices did rise from $1.75 per dozen in February 2018 to $2.08 per dozen in April last year. Prices steadily decreased thereafter.
Average prices for a dozen eggs approached $3 in mid-2015 by comparison, following the avian flu outbreak before a rapid decline in early 2016.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Marketing Service reported wholesale egg prices stabilized in the past several weeks, and retailers are setting attractive prices on eggs for Easter promotions. Retail egg featuring by grocers reflects a sharp increase in activity for those promotions.
“The average advertised price drops sharply as retailers pull out all the stops to maximize product movement,” according to the market analysis. “Easter is now less than a week away and product is clearing into channels at a brisk pace.”
Coufal said U.S. egg consumption continues to increase along consumer trends and population growth.
“Health and medical reports have settled that eggs aren’t bad for you,” he said. “The industry ratio comes out to one laying hen per person in the U.S., and that number is similar globally. That covers the eggs people eat for breakfast and all the baked goods we produce. When you think about most recipes, they have eggs, so they are an important commodity within our food system.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
Parts of the district received 1 inch of rainfall, which helped winter annual grasses. Small grains were heading out. Some supplemental feeding helped livestock. Temperatures varied from extremely warm to cool, and winds were moderate. Heavy rainfall was expected along with a cold front. Most counties reported good soil moisture. Overall rangeland, pasture and crop conditions were good.
Warmer days helped soil temperatures, which helped native grasses to start emerging. Cattle producers decreased hay feedings. Winter wheat was in fair to good condition with some fields starting to head out. The subsoil moisture looked favorable going into cotton planting season.
Growers were scrambling to fight blowing soil as fields dried out after a great deal of rain. Corn and sorghum made good progress. Cotton planting continued. Some later-planted sorghum was burned due to blowing winds, and several fields of seedling cotton were damaged and plowed out with the intention of replanting. Rice planting was nearly complete with some emerging. Hay fields were fertilized. Pastures continued to improve. Winter weeds were still present and prolific. Livestock were in excellent condition. Pecan trees budded out.
Rainfall around the district ranged from 1 inch in Trinity County to over 7 inches in Harrison County. In Cherokee County, baseball-sized hail destroyed vegetable gardens, and some producers lost newborn calves. Gardeners were planting gardens. Pasture and rangeland conditions were mostly fair to good with poor conditions reported from Trinity and Tyler counties. Subsoil and topsoil conditions were mostly adequate. Harrison, Marion and Tyler counties reported surplus conditions. Warm temperatures and rain helped forage growth, and producers were cutting back on supplemental feed. Many producers in Trinity County were fertilizing in hopes of getting an early hay cutting. Fertilizing of hay fields was in full swing in Polk County with about half of spring field work done. Livestock in Smith County were in fair to good condition with supplemental feeding taking place. Marion County calves were growing well and gaining weight. Cattle in Trinity County were not looking good after a period with little to no hay. Fly numbers were increasing in several counties. Wild pigs were active and continued to cause damage.
Most of the district received rain. Amounts varied from half an inch to 3 inches. Hard rains caused erosion in fields but helped fill stock tanks. High winds and warmer temperatures dried topsoil moisture and caused sand to blow across fields. Low temperatures were in the low- to mid-30s. Pastures, rangelands and winter wheat fields needed moisture. Producers continued to prepare for spring planting. Cattle continued to be in good condition.
Producers surveyed damage from high winds, hail and freezing temperatures. Much of the district remained dry. Winds of 70-plus mph robbed any potential moisture in the soil profile. Winter wheat approached flag leaf stage, and producers were concerned any extended freezing temperatures may have damaged fields. Producers were working fields for the upcoming planting season, with a small amount of corn planting started. Corn acres were expected to be average or below while cotton acreage was expected to increase. Forecast rain did not materialize across much of the district, leaving pastures in need of moisture. Cattle body conditions were holding well.
Most counties reported mostly adequate to surplus soil moisture. Daytime temperatures increased to the mid-70s. Heavy rains brought 1.5 inches to areas of the district. Warmer temperatures and high winds dried up standing water from previous rains. Summer grasses began to emerge. Cool nights slowed growth of warm-season grasses. Wheat and oat crops looked much better for the most part. Those crops were in flagging to heading stages as a result of a wide planting window last fall. The corn crop emerged and looked healthy and was growing good. Producers said the season was the best start in several years. Grain sorghum planting was about 70-80 percent complete with most acres emerged and growing. Cotton or soybean planting was just around the corner. Stocker cattle looked good with good grazing conditions. Cow/calf producers said herds looked much better since winter grasses were plentiful. Most supplemental feeding had stopped.
Temperature highs were in the upper 90s with lows in the low 40s. Precipitation ranged from half an inch to 3 inches. Some areas in the district still have received no rainfall, which was causing loss of topsoil to high winds. Dry areas were still under wildfire advisory. Corn and sorghum began to emerge and grow. Alfalfa hit by weevils was now bouncing back. Watermelons were expected to be planted soon. Winter forbs began to dry and cure. Pecans were coming out quite well. Mesquite trees bloomed. Large quantities of rangeland grasses were growing and creating forage for livestock.
Weekend thunderstorms brought much-needed rain to most of the district, but some areas were still in need of moisture. Cotton producers continued to prepare land and control weeds in preparation of cotton planting. Spring green-up started, and rangeland conditions continued to improve. Pecans were budding. Stock tanks were full. Small grain fields were grazed by livestock. Livestock were in fair condition. Cattle demand was strong with a very active market. Feeder steers and heifers sold steady. Packer cows were $2-$4 higher per hundredweight, and bulls were $2 higher. Pairs and bred cows were steady and in good demand with the green grass growing.
Conditions were favorable for forage and other plant growth. Moisture levels were optimum in most areas of the district. Pasture and rangeland conditions improved as temperatures continued to warm. Livestock were in good health. Rangelands and pastures were very poor to excellent with good ratings being most common. Soil-moisture levels ranged from adequate to surplus with adequate being most common.
Most counties received much-needed rainfall, from almost a half inch to 1.25 inches. Some storms delivered structure-damaging hail. Pasture and rangeland conditions were improving. Crops were doing well. Livestock remained in good condition.
Mild weather was reported around the district. Soil moisture levels were adequate in northern and eastern areas with short to adequate levels in western parts and short levels in southern parts of the district. Northern areas received scattered rains with reports of half an inch in Frio County. Cotton and watermelon planting were done, and wheat fields were starting to turn color. All crops were under irrigation. Pasture and rangeland conditions were still poor to fair due to a lack of moisture. But they were improving in areas that received rain. Western parts of the district received up to 4 inches of rain. Rains were followed by triple-digit temperatures, including 105 degrees in Dimmit County. Conditions were also windy. Coastal Bermuda grass fields were almost ready to cut, and some producers already made their first bales of the season. Vegetable crops were planted. Wheat and oats were maturing. Corn, sorghum and cotton progressed well. Some insect pressure was reported in corn and sorghum fields. Cabbage harvest was complete. Livestock body conditions remained mostly fair to good with no supplemental feeding reported. Jim Wells County reported a heavy line of storms that delivered 2-3 inches of rain along with 40-60 mph winds. No damage was reported, but producers expected replanting to follow. Mornings were in the 50s with afternoons in the 80s in other eastern areas of the district. Southern areas of the district reported 1-2 inches of rain. Starr County reported row crops were progressing well.
Source: Agriculture Section – AgriLife Feed