Soaring egg prices show signs of easing

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook headline, "Egg prices skyrocket," described its forecast of a 48% increase in egg prices in the first quarter of 2008 from the same period a year ago.

The U.S.D.A. expects Northeast wholesale table eggs to average $1.50@1.56 a dozen in the January-March period, up from $1.05 a year ago and compared with 71c two years ago.

Breaking stock eggs tend to follow table eggs higher as breaking stock is diverted to the table egg market. And trade sources expect breaking eggs also should follow retail prices lower.

Since the Easter holiday egg prices have begun to ease, although egg product prices remain strong because of tight inventories, egg processors said.

Retail egg sales over the typically strong Easter demand period were slower than expected, processors said. One noted significant donations of eggs to food pantries after Easter, also a sign of slow sales at the retail level.

Nest run egg prices reported in Food Business News as of March 28 were $1.10 a dozen, down 6c from the record high of $1.16 two weeks ago but more than double the year-ago price of 53c.

The U.S.D.A. forecast second-quarter table egg prices to average $1.17@1.23 a dozen, down 33c, or 22%, from the first quarter but still 30% above the second quarter of 2007. Additional declines were forecast in the third quarter, as production finally increases. A modest seasonal increase from the third quarter was forecast for the fourth quarter of 2008.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, April 1, 2008, starting on Page 25. Click here to search that archive.

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