Cal-Maine j.v. lays plans for cage-free egg production

by Monica Watrous
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Cal-Maine Foods is primarily engaged in the production, grading, packing and sale of fresh shell eggs, including conventional, cage-free, organic and nutritionally enhanced eggs.

JACKSON, MISS. — Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. has announced a joint venture with Rose Acre Farms, Inc., a Seymour, Ind.-based egg producer with 17 processing operations in six states. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Known as Red River Valley Egg Farm, L.L.C., the new joint venture will build and operate a shell egg production complex near Bogata, Red River County, Texas, with capacity of approximately 1.8 million laying hens. The site will be permitted for up to 2.9 million birds. The joint venture will license and use Rose Acre Farms’ patent-pending cage-free aviary designs and systems. Operations of the new complex are expected to begin in August, creating approximately 80 to 100 new jobs in Red River County.

The partnership comes at a time when the egg industry faces regulatory uncertainty. A California law that went into effect Jan. 1 requires shell eggs sold in the state to come from chickens in larger cages than the industry norm, prompting speculation that similar changes may eventually take effect in other states.

“We are pleased to enter into this production joint venture with Rose Acre Farms to expand our production capabilities and respond to increased customer demand for cage-free and other specialty eggs,” said Dolph Baker, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Cal-Maine Foods. “Considering the uncertain regulatory framework in our industry right now, it made sense to partner with Rose Acre Farms to share the costs and mitigate the risk of such a large-scale aviary style egg production facility. The additional capacity provided by Red River Valley Egg Farm will significantly increase the availability of cage-free and other specialty eggs and egg products. We look forward to working with Rose Acre Farms on this venture.”

Cal-Maine Foods, headquartered in Jackson, is the largest producer and distributor of fresh shell eggs in the United States. The company primarily is engaged in the production, grading, packing and sale of fresh shell eggs, including conventional, cage-free, organic and nutritionally enhanced eggs.

“We are proud to partner with Cal-Maine Foods in this new joint venture,” said Marcus Rust, chief executive officer of Rose Acre Farms, which has been family-owned and -operated since 1964. “Red River Valley Egg Farm provides a unique opportunity to leverage our combined strengths and capitalize on the growing demand for specialty eggs. This joint venture will allow us to better serve customers who are looking for a trusted supplier of cage-free eggs.”
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