June 30, 2015

US turns from egg exporter into importer


From being a leading supplier of eggs to the world, having an average production surplus of 4%, the US is currently having a shortage of around 10%, no thanks to the bird-flu outbreaks that have affected the Midwest including Iowa, the country's No. 1 egg producer.


The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the US Department of Agriculture has reportedly received many inquiries regarding the requirements to import eggs and other egg products into the country.


Already, the government has approved the importation of shell eggs and egg products from the Netherlands, the first time the US is importing eggs from a European country since 2012. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the agency tasked by the USDA to oversee the egg importation, has determined that the Netherlands' "food safety system continues to be equivalent to that of the US, which ensures that product is safe, wholesome and properly labelled".


Besides the Netherlands, the USDA has also approved the importation of shell eggs from Argentina, Chile, Germany, France, Portugal and Spain, according to the Agriculture Marketing Service. The Netherlands also suffered from a bird-flu outbreak (H5N8 strain) in November last year and has apparently recovered from it.


Egg prices


Due to the shortage of supply, the average egg price in the US for 2015 is expected at $1.63 per dozen from last year's $1.42.


The average egg price in the fourth quarter of 2015 is expected to reach $1.80 per dozen.


Since April the wholesale price of a dozen of eggs in liquid form has been over $1.50 from the previous wholesale price of $0.63.


The egg-supply shortage has also led the Texas-based grocery store chain H-E-B to limit egg purchases to three cartons per customer.


The avian-flu crisis in the US, which began in December last year, has caused the killing of nearly 47 million chickens and turkeys in 15 states.


Before the avian-flu outbreaks, the US produced exported more than 30 million dozen eggs a month to trade partners such as Mexico and Canada.