An abundance of inexpensive, conventionally produced eggs is depressing demand for higher priced cage-free eggs. A new report by CoBank says egg production, conventual and cage-free, has surged since the 2015 avian flu outbreak.
More than 229 major food companies following the outbreak pledged to use cage-free eggs by 2025. Meanwhile, total table egg production is expected to return to historical growth patterns as low egg prices encourage producers to pare back production. The rebalancing of the market will allow the cage-free transition to be driven by fundamental consumer demand rather than pledges made by retailers and food manufacturers, according to the report.
To fully meet food company pledges to market all or a significant portion of their eggs as cage-free, nearly three-quarters of the entire layer flock would need to meet the criteria. It would cost the industry about $10 billion to make the transition. The current overabundance of conventional eggs makes this investment difficult in the near term, the report points out.