U.S. egg producers will face some of the biggest challenges they have ever seen over the next 12 months. Uncertainty surrounds just about every aspect of hen housing and welfare. Will national hen welfare legislation be passed by Congress? How long will the truce with the Humane Society of the United States last if it doesn’t pass? What type of hen housing will be acceptable in California and where will the eggs come from for that market? Oh, and who will be able to survive what is predicted to be 12 months of record-high grain prices?
But all of the news isn’t bad for egg producers. Per capita egg consumption in the U.S. is projected by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service to be 246.4 eggs in 2012, just 1.5 percent less than in 2007. In the same time period, U.S. per capita red meat and poultry consumption has declined from an all-time high in 2007 of 221.6 pounds to a projected 202.7 pounds this year, a drop of 8.5 percent.
Egg consumption has held up better than meat consumption during the hard economic times that the U.S. economy is suffering through. The entire protein sector will really take it on the chin for the next year or so as they struggle with the cutbacks which will be necessary to get prices up to levels that will cover record high grain prices and still yield a profit. Based on per capita consumption data for the last five years, the egg industry may feel a little less pain than other protein producers will experience.