Egg and egg product prices should continue to decline as cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) decline, Amy Smith, vice president, Advanced Economic Solutions, said June 6 at the Sosland Publishing Co. 45th annual Purchasing Seminar.  

“HPAI is the story,” Ms. Smith said, noting that the disease, carried by wild birds, was confirmed in all four North American flyways this year. Egg layers were the poultry segment most affected with about 30 million layers destroyed, 44% of which were in the top egg producing state of Iowa, with about 9% of the total US laying flock impacted. That compares with about 32.5 million layers affected by the 2015 HPAI outbreak. In contrast, only 2.36 million birds were culled from broiler flocks and about 5.5 million turkeys. To date, about 38 million total birds have been culled due to HPAI.

Ms. Smith noted that since June 2 (as of June 6) only one commercial flock and no laying flocks had been detected with HPAI.

“I think we’ve peaked,” she said.

The loss of laying hens sent egg and egg product prices skyrocketing from March to May. Prices for eggs have dropped sharply since mid-May, and prices for most egg products also have declined except for dried whole egg and yolk and liquid and frozen yolk. Ms. Smith noted that the industry entered the HPAI pandemic in 2022 with less dried egg product inventory than in the 2015 HPAI outbreak.

Ms. Smith forecast prices for large table eggs at $2.44 per dozen in the second quarter, at $1.93 per dozen in the third quarter and at $1.95 per dozen for the full year compared with $1.21 per dozen in 2021. She forecast dried whole egg prices at $13.70 a lb in the second quarter, $11.20 a lb in the third quarter and $9.10 a lb for the full year compared with $3.16 a lb in 2021. Dried yolk prices were forecast at $11.70 a lb in the second quarter, $8.58 a lb in the third quarter and $7.50 a lb for all of 2022 compared with $2.39 a lb in 2021.

It will take about 10 to 12 months for layer flocks to fully recover, Ms. Smith said, but the industry is facing more “headwinds” than in 2015, including more expensive pullets and feed and the move to cage-free eggs. Feed costs have risen sharply, gaining 28% from October 2021 to April 2022, Ms. Smith said. Some producers who had traditional commercial flocks may take to opportunity to convert to cage-free operations, she said.