Look for cheaper egg prices by mid-May

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. — U.S. egg prices are beginning to moderate now that the traditional Easter demand has subsided.

According to United Egg Producers, a trade association that represents most U.S. egg farmers, lower prices should begin showing up in the grocery stores by mid-May.

The Urner-Barry index, which tracks market trends of U.S. egg farm prices declined 25 percent in the three weeks since Easter (March 23 – April 10), to $1.25 per dozen in the Midwest Region and $1.39 in California.

Currently, retail egg prices average about $2.16 for regular, modern eggs, $3.00 for cage free and about $3.50 for free range, depending on the markets, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture and American Farm Bureau reports.

Gene Gregory, president of United Egg Producers, said U.S. egg farmers also are increasing the amount of eggs they produce to supply the growing U.S. consumption, which now totals 76 billion eggs per year, or 253 eggs per person.

The trade association says the “hatch” of young chickens that will soon be laying eggs is up 5 percent from one year ago.

Bigger cages, fewer hens

Ironically, one of the steps that U.S. egg farmers adopted several years ago was an animal welfare program called UEP Certified, which increased the amount of space for egg-laying hens by 50 percent and provided them enough room to help ensure that they could easily stand upright, turn around, and walk to the feeders and water nipples.

However, by providing hens more space, farmers now have fewer egg-laying hens in each hen house, which has contributed to the slightly smaller supply of eggs. The tightening credit markets have also made it more difficult for some farmers to borrow the millions of dollars required to build new hen houses, Gregory said.

Still under fire

Farmers are also hesitant to invest money in new, modern hen houses because some animal rights activists have been pushing for new laws that would ban the modern hen houses that are required to produce eggs.

Californians will be the first to vote in November on this ban.

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