February 23, 2023

Chicken industry calls for action regarding egg prices

Chicken industry calls for action regarding egg prices

By: Sydney Sheffield

The National Chicken Council (NCC) has called for the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take measures to decrease egg prices. The chicken industry is examining a policy that forces the broiler industry to destroy safe eggs, due to the current outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the United States. NCC is petitioning the FDA to revert, or at the very least, modify this policy.

Due to fluctuating market conditions, broiler hatcheries, in some instances, have more eggs on hand than they want to hatch. These are known as “surplus” hatching eggs. Prior to 2009 when FDA implemented new rules, broiler producers were able to sell these surplus eggs to egg processors, known as “breakers,” to be pasteurized (cooked) and used in egg products. As a direct result of the 2009 FDA rule, broiler producers stopped selling surplus hatching eggs to egg breakers and instead are to discard these eggs.

“In light of the pressure the current HPAI outbreak is putting on the nation’s egg supply, FDA should revisit the use of safe, affordable, and nutritious surplus eggs available for use by egg breakers and their customers,” said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. “Already faced with record egg prices, consumers might be hit even harder in their wallets as we head into the Easter season unless FDA provides us with a pathway to put these eggs to good use.”

More than 58 million birds have been culled since HPAI was first detected in 2022, with many of them being egg-laying chickens. The price spikes and supply disruptions are placing strain on the shell and egg products industries. The impact has trickled down to restaurants, food manufacturers, and consumers. NCC states that allowing this request would release almost 400 million safe and nutritious surplus eggs into the egg-breaking supply each year, helping to ease costs and inflationary pressures.

“Despite sharp inflation and shocks to the egg supply, hundreds of millions of excess eggs are being wasted when they could be sold safely in the breaking market. Surplus-hatching eggs should be made available for sale to egg breakers who can pasteurize them under FSIS jurisdiction into safe and wholesome egg products. This would reduce input costs for food made with egg products and alleviate prices for both table eggs and egg products,” Peterson said.

Read the petition here.