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Retail egg prices rose 21 percent in third quarter 2015

Monday, February 8, 2016

Egg prices are among the most volatile in the grocery store. Unlike many other retail foods, shell eggs have a limited shelf life—they cannot be frozen or canned. If demand increases or supplies fall, there is limited inventory to draw upon and retail prices may rise. While some price fluctuations are expected due to seasonal demand for eggs throughout the year, there have been some above-average price increases over the past 16 years, mainly due to disease outbreaks affecting poultry or surges in feed prices. The most recent upswing in retail egg prices was largely due to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which affected table-egg-laying flocks, primarily in the Midwest. To contain the outbreak, which ran from late 2014 to June 2015, producers destroyed about 33 million hens (roughly 11 percent of U.S. egg-laying hens). Retail egg prices rose 20.9 percent in the third quarter of 2015, and egg prices in September 2015, were 36.2 percent higher than in September 2014. As the industry recovers from the outbreak, retail egg prices have begun to adjust, falling 3.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015. This chart appears in “Retail Egg Price Volatility in 2015 Reflects Farm Conditions” in the February 2016 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.

Restrictions on antibiotic use for production purposes in U.S. hogs and broilers likely to have modest effects on prices, quantities

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Livestock farmers use antibiotics to treat, control, and prevent disease, and also for production purposes, such as increasing growth and feed efficiency. A new U.S. Food and Drug Administration initiative seeks to eliminate the use of medically important antibiotics for production purposes. ERS research shows that only a portion of hog and broiler producers use antibiotics for production purposes, and the productivity increases from such uses are 1-3 percent. Modelling the effect of production-specific antibiotic restrictions suggests that such a policy would have a modest effect on wholesale prices and quantities produced of chicken and pork—less than a 1-percent increase in wholesale prices and a net decline in production of less than 0.5 percent. Because prices increase more than quantities decrease, gross revenues (price times quantity) would increase slightly. This chart is based on the table found in the Amber Waves feature, “Restrictions on Antibiotic Use for Production Purposes in U.S. Livestock Industries Likely To Have Small Effects on Prices and Quantities,” November 2015.

Chicken's popularity makes it the most consumed U.S. meat

Monday, January 25, 2016

In 2013, 57.7 pounds of chicken per person on a boneless, edible basis were available for Americans to eat, compared to 53.6 pounds of beef and 43.4 pounds of pork, according to ERS’s food availability data. From 1909 to the early 1940s, chicken availability had been around 10 pounds per person a year, while yearly per-person beef and pork availability had ranged from between 30 and 50 pounds. Chicken began its upward climb in the 1940s, as innovations in breeding, mass production, and processing made chicken more plentiful, affordable, and convenient for the dining-out market and for cooking at home. By 1996, chicken had overtaken pork as the second-most-consumed meat, and in 2010, chicken overtook beef for the No. 1 spot. Beef availability rose during the second half of the last century, peaking at 88.8 pounds per capita in 1976. Pork availability, which had fallen in 2010 and 2011, was up in 2012 and again in 2013. This chart appears in ERS’s Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials data product.

U.S. poultry and eggs output has grown more rapidly than dairy and meat animals

Friday, October 23, 2015

Total U.S. livestock output grew 130 percent from 1948 to 2011, with the poultry and eggs subcategory growing much faster than meat animals (including cattle, hogs, and lamb) and dairy products. In 2011, the real value of total poultry and egg production was more than seven times its level in 1948, with an average annual growth rate exceeding 3 percent. The rapid growth of poultry production is due largely to changes in technology—advances in genetics, feed formulations, housing, and practices—and increased consumer demand. Retail prices of poultry fell in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, relative to beef and pork prices, leading to expanded poultry consumption in that period. Increased domestic consumption and exports were also driven by consumer response to an expanding range of new poultry products, as the industry moved away from a reliance on whole birds and produc­tion shifted to cut-up parts and processed products such as boneless chicken, breaded nuggets/tenders, and chicken sausages. This chart is found in the ERS report, Agricultural Productivity Growth in the United States: Measurement, Trends, and Drivers, July 2015.

Americans consumed 19 pounds of eggs per person in 2012

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

According to ERS’s Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data, U.S. consumption of eggs fell during the 1970s and 1980s from 24 pounds per person in 1971 to 18.2 pounds in 1990. Egg consumption stayed fairly flat before rising some in the late 1990s. Concerns over cholesterol in eggs (related to heart disease), and an increase in fast food restaurants offering non-egg breakfast items such as yogurt, fruit salads, oatmeal, etc., likely influenced the decline. Roughly 70 percent of the 19 pounds of eggs per person (the equivalent of 144 eggs) that Americans consumed in 2012 were shell eggs, and 30 percent were processed egg products, where eggs have been removed from the shell, pasteurized, and then packaged in liquid, frozen, or dried form. Though some processed products are available in grocery stores, many processed egg products are used by food manufacturing and foodservice companies. On a daily basis, Americans consumed an average of 0.8 ounces of eggs per day in 2012, compared to 2.0 ounces of chicken, the most consumed protein in the meat, fish, eggs, and nuts group. In 2012, Americans consumed 529 daily calories per person from the meat, fish, eggs, and nuts group, with 34 calories coming from egg consumption. The data for this chart come from ERS’s Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System.

New cage size regulations contribute to widening egg price gap

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Over the last 2 months of 2014, egg prices in most markets experienced a brief and very sharp price spike. Egg prices traditionally are strong in the fourth quarter, but the spike in 2014 was larger than usual, considering that table egg production increased in November 2014. The high prices nationwide in the fourth quarter of 2014 are likely the result of both strong exports of table eggs to Mexico in November and uncertainties about the future of the table egg market in California due to new cage size regulations that went into effect on January 1, 2015. In the short term, the new regulations have widened the price difference between the California market and other parts of the United States. At the end of October 2014, the difference between the wholesale prices of Grade A large eggs in the Southern California market and the New York City market was around 12 cents per dozen. Prices in Southern California rose to average $2.68 per dozen by the middle of December. Like in other markets, prices then began to decline, but by the beginning of 2015 had only fallen to around $2.28 per dozen, resulting in a price differential between the Southern California market and the New York City market of over $1.00 per dozen. This chart is based on information from the report, Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook: January 2015.

Most U.S. broiler operations use some form of sanitation/biosecurity practice

Monday, January 26, 2015

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service and Economic Research Service recently conducted the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) of the U.S. broiler chicken industry. Results indicate that several sanitation and biosecurity practices were widespread on broiler operations in the United States in 2011. Almost all operations used practices to control rodent and wild bird access to facilities, and almost all rotated flocks on an all-in, all-out basis, aimed at limiting the spread of pathogens and disease among animals. Nearly half of broiler operations reported that they follow the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) or a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan, which are designed to improve animal health, food safety, and food quality. One-fifth of operations fully cleaned out and sanitized their houses after each flock removal. USDA may provide support for incineration and composting facilities, as well as litter management practices, through payments made under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). ARMS results find that seven percent of contract growers received EQIP payments related to broiler production in 2011. This chart is found in the ERS/NASS report, 2011 ARMS - Broiler Industry Highlights.

Midwest drought's impacts seen in fourth quarter 2012 food prices

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In the final three months of 2012, higher field corn prices resulting from the Midwest drought began to show up on supermarket shelves. From October to December, while the all-items CPI fell 0.8 percent and overall food-at-home prices increased only 0.2 percent, prices rose for most foods that rely heavily on corn-based animal feed—beef, pork, poultry, other meats, eggs, and dairy products. Milk prices rose nearly 3 percent while egg prices increased 1.7 percent. Prices for beef, poultry, and other meats all rose by about 0.5 percent. The only animal-based category defying this trend is pork, where rising inventories and falling exports have caused retail prices to drop from historically high levels in early 2012. ERS forecasts prices for all meat and animal-based products to increase steadily through the first half of 2013. More information on food price changes and forecasts can be found in the Food Price Outlook data product, updated January 2013.

Retail prices of beef, fats and oils, and poultry up the most in 2012

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Overall food-at-home prices rose 2.6 percent in 2012, but this masked a great deal of variation across food categories. For the second consecutive year, beef and fats and oils showed the biggest percentage increases. Beef prices increased due to record low cattle inventories, while surging soybean prices pushed up prices for fats and oils. Poultry prices also increased substantially in 2012, due to a shift in demand away from high-priced beef and pork coupled with higher costs for broiler feed resulting from the Midwest drought. Pork prices, which saw major inflation in 2011, were flat in 2012 as wholesale prices fell due to rising hog inventories and falling exports. Vegetable prices fell 5.1 percent in 2012 as the unusually warm weather led to bumper crops for lettuce, tomatoes, and other vegetables, in sharp contrast to the poor harvests and high vegetable prices of 2011. More information on food price changes and forecasts can be found in the Food Price Outlook data product, updated January 24, 2013.

A slight increase in per capita turkey consumption is expected in 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Per capita consumption of turkey in the United States has declined since 2007-2009, reflecting the impacts of the sluggish domestic economy on demand, and of higher feed and energy costs on domestic production and prices. U.S. turkey production dropped 9 percent between 2008 and 2010, but has recovered gradually during 2011 and 2012. Wholesale turkey prices rose 12.8 percent in 2011, but a more modest 3.7 percent increase is forecast for 2012. With higher production and a more moderate price increase in the forecast for 2012, per capita turkey consumption is expected to rise to 16.3 pounds, up slightly from 16.1 pounds in 2011. For more information on the U.S. turkey sector, visit the Poultry & Eggs topic page on the ERS website.

Turkey prices have risen faster than general food prices, but usually fall in November and December

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Prices for turkey, a Thanksgiving staple, have increased more than prices for most other grocery store foods in recent years. From 2005 to 2011, average retail turkey prices increased by 47 percent, while food-at-home prices rose by 13 percent. Higher feed costs and energy prices led producers to reduce turkey inventories, driving up retail turkey prices. However, average turkey prices fall every year near Thanksgiving, and most years, retail turkey prices are at annual lows in November or December. Prices of other Thanksgiving foods have not followed similar trends. Potato prices, for example, have increased more in line with food-at-home prices and do not show a strong seasonal pattern. More information on food price changes and forecasts can be found in ERS's Food Price Outlook data product, updated October 25, 2012. For more information on the U.S. turkey sector, visit the Poultry & Eggs topic page on the ERS website.

Beef, fats and oils, and eggs led food price increase in 2011

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Grocery store food prices were up 4.8 percent in 2011, as food inflation picked up again for the first time since 2008. 2011's higher food-at-home price inflation reflected higher energy and commodity prices, combined with a weaker U.S. dollar that boosted international demand for U.S. foods. Specific food categories posted especially large increases: beef up 10.2 percent, fats and oils up 9.3 percent, and eggs up 9.2 percent. Beef prices were up in 2011 due to higher input costs, low inventories, and strong international demand. Drought conditions throughout the South contributed to higher 2011 egg prices, while the jump in prices for fats and oils was due in large part to surging soybean prices. More information on ERS's analysis and forecasts of food price inflation can be found in the Food Prices, Expenditures and Costs topic on the ERS website.

Top States in U.S. turkey cash receipts, 2010

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The U.S. turkey industry produces over one-quarter of a billion birds annually, with the live weight of each bird averaging over 25 pounds. Production of turkeys is somewhat more scattered geographically than broiler production. In terms of cash receipts, the top five turkey-producing States in 2010 were Minnesota, North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, and Arkansas. The United States is by far the world's largest turkey producer, followed by the European Union. Even though exports are a major component of U.S. turkey use, the United States consumes more turkey per capita than any other country. This chart is based on ERS cash receipts data and information found in the Poultry & Eggs topic.

Broiler contracts often specify very short durations

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Broiler production is a long-term commitment-houses are expensive, built to last for many years, and have few alternative uses. Because of that, producers tend to have long-term relationships with those who purchase their product (referred to as 'integrators' when broilers are raised under contract). On average, producers reported holding contracts for 13 years with their current integrator in 2006. However, the actual contracts often specify very short durations. Forty-five percent of producers reported that their contracts were flock-to-flock, explicitly covering only the birds currently in their houses (5-10 weeks). Only eight percent of production contracts specified a term of at least 7 years, while the longest ran 15 years. Long durations tend to be offered to newer and larger operations. Among recent entrants, those with long-term contracts averaged half again as much production as those with shorter contracts. This chart appeared in The Economic Organization of U.S. Broiler Production, EIB-38, June 2008.

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