The switch to cage-free eggs to meet consumer demand is causing some U.S. egg producers to lose money, but don’t expect the same thing to happen here, says the Egg Farmers of Ontario.
Dolph Baker is the CEO of Cal-Maine Foods, the largest producer of eggs sold on grocery shelves. Buzzfeed, an Internet media company focused on social news and entertainment, quoted Baker as saying there is a glut of cage-free eggs in the U.S., but consumers won’t pay the extra cost to buy them.
Eggs in the U.S. are relatively cheap, but cage-free eggs sell for about US $1.25 to $1.50 more than conventional eggs.
There are numerous reasons behind the oversupply, including the fact that many grocery chain stores and food companies promised to switch to cage-free eggs fairly quickly. Many farmers converted to cage-free eggs to try to take advantage, which created an oversupply.
While Cal-Maine has shut down some production to reduce the oversupply, some farm experts believe the number of hens needs to be reduced by 6 to 8 million before supply matches with demand.
Bill Mitchell, director of public affairs with the Egg Farmers of Ontario, said that oversupply is not happening in Canada. He said all specialty eggs — which is any egg laid in a non-traditional housing barn — makes up about 10 per cent of production across Canada. Any rise above that number tends to be fairly gradual, he said, and egg graders work with both buyers and farmers to ensure there’s enough eggs from each type of housing to meet demand.