ERS Charts of Note
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Wednesday, November 29, 2023
The 2018 spread of African swine fever (ASF) to China had reverberations in the global pork market. ASF—a virus often fatal to swine—caused an estimated loss of 27.9 million metric tons in China’s pork output from late 2018 to early 2021 and led to a doubling of China’s domestic pork prices. These high prices attracted a surge of pork exports from four major suppliers—the European Union (EU), United States, Brazil, and Canada. While the EU was the top supplier, U.S. pork exports were sizable and reached a record high of more than 287,000 metric tons in the second quarter of 2020. After surging, exports by all suppliers began declining during 2021 as China’s domestic production rebounded and associated prices plummeted. According to a recent report from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), pork exports to China might have increased even more during the ASF outbreak if not for several factors. Specifically, China banned pork from some EU countries that also had ASF outbreaks. In addition, U.S. pork faced high retaliatory tariffs because of trade tensions, and China rejected some Canadian pork shipments. Also, during the COVID-19 pandemic, China launched stringent inspections of foreign meat suppliers and required decontamination of meat at Chinese ports. In aggregate, pork imports replaced about an estimated one-fifth of the domestic pork supplies lost in China during the ASF epidemic. Official data indicate that China’s pork production returned to its pre-ASF level in 2021. While exports to China are down from their peak, China is still one of the top 3 overseas markets for U.S. pork, with sales in the first 6 months of 2023 exceeding annual totals posted in years before ASF hit China. This chart first appeared in the ERS report How China’s African Swine Fever Outbreaks Affected Global Pork Markets, published November 2023.
Tuesday, November 7, 2023
The United States is a large producer and exporter of dairy products. Some dairy products are exported more than others. Exports-to-production ratios, which indicate the share of total U.S. production destined for export each year, show that U.S. dry skim milk products are increasingly exported. In 2022, U.S. exports of dry skim milk products (nonfat dry milk, skim milk powder, and dry skim milk for animal use) were equivalent to 69 percent of production by volume. Since 2000, the exports-to-production ratio of dry skim milk products has increased, more than tripling from 2000 to 2022. By contrast, U.S.-produced cheese and butter mostly are kept for use in domestic markets. Though the exports-to-production ratios of butter and cheese also have trended upward, U.S. exports of butter equated to less than 9 percent of 2022 production, and exports of cheese were equivalent to about 7 percent of production. Differences between exports of butter and cheese and exports of dry milk products partly can be explained by shelf stability and ease of transport. Dry skim milk products are much easier to ship internationally and have a lower risk of spoilage than fresh and/or refrigerated dairy products. Although relatively low proportions of U.S. cheese are exported, in 2022 the United States was the second largest exporter of cheese by value worldwide, with total cheese exports estimated at nearly $2.3 billion. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report U.S. Trade Performance and Position in Global Meat, Poultry, and Dairy Exports published in April 2023.
Thursday, November 2, 2023
Just in time for the 2023 holiday season, wholesale prices of whole frozen turkeys are declining. Prices for frozen whole hens—the birds typically served for holiday dinners—averaged $1.27 per pound in August 2023. Prices dropped further to $1.25 per pound in September, down 43 cents from a year earlier, and the lowest monthly average price since July of 2021. The price reprieve comes after an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in 2022 resulted in major losses for the commercial turkey flock. Turkey production fell 6 percent to 5.222 billion pounds in 2022, down from about 5.558 billion in 2021, and prices rose to historic highs. The outbreak persisted for more than a year, winding down in April 2023. Even as the outbreak continued in the spring, turkey production had already begun to recover from the mid-2022 low point, when depopulation resulted in sharply lower turkey numbers. Since April 2023, production has been above the previous year’s levels, partly because birds were being slaughtered at heavier weights. Detections of HPAI in commercial turkey flocks in early October 2023 are not expected to have a major effect on the availability of turkeys in the 2023 holiday season. This chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook, September 2023.
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Cage-free hens, which unlike caged hens are free to roam during the laying cycle, comprise a growing percentage of the U.S. egg-laying flock. The cage-free flock has grown as States have passed and enacted legislation banning confinement of hens and as multiple retailers and food service providers have pledged to only source eggs from cage-free operations. Additional State bans are planned to take effect between 2023 and 2026. According to the USDA, Monthly Cage-Free Shell Egg report, the cage-free egg-laying flock (including certified organic hens) increased by more than 10.5 million hens in the first 6 months of 2023. As a result, cage-free hens increased as a proportion of the total U.S. laying flock, expanding from 36 percent in January to 38 percent in June. A closer look at USDA’s data reveals that the nonorganic cage-free flock accounted for most of this increase, while the organic egg-laying flock accounted for a smaller share of growth. The same report estimates cage-free hens’ productivity. Starting in late 2021, cage-free lay rates have been moving mostly above or at similar levels to the lay rates in the overall table egg-laying flock, a departure from the previous trend. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook, August 2023.
Thursday, August 17, 2023
In the United States, most cow-calf operations are relatively small and have fewer than 50 cows though a few very large operations (with more than 1,000 cows) can be found. On cow-calf farms, calves are birthed, raised, and weaned on site. While some calves remain on the farm until they reach slaughter weight, most are either moved directly to feedlots after weaning or retained on-farm for additional weight gain before being sold to feedlots. Unlike many other animal production operations, cow-calf farms generally do not require a major upfront investment in capital assets specific to cow-calf production, such as housing. The combination of relatively lower cow-calf specific startup costs and pasture as a primary source of feed has resulted in a variety of operation sizes on a range of land types for both full- and part-time farmers. Data from USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Census of Agriculture indicate that between 1997 and 2017, most cow-calf operations remained small. In 2017, 54 percent of farms with beef cows had fewer than 20 cows, slightly down from 1997. However, across the two decades, the overall number of cow-calf operations in the United States decreased by 19 percent, while the average herd size of operations grew. These changes in farm number and herd size, while notable, have not been as significant as industry shifts in hog and dairy production. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report Structure, Management Practices, and Production Costs of U.S. Beef Cow-Calf Farms, published in July 2023.
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
Corn farmers most frequently apply manure to the soil surface without incorporating it, rather than using other methods. Manure types vary based on water content, such as lagoon liquid, slurry liquid, and dry or semi-dry. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) researchers found that irrespective of manure type, corn farmers used surface application most often, tending not to incorporate the manure with tillage afterward. With incorporation, manure is first spread on the soil surface and then mixed into the first few inches with a tillage implement, thus increasing its contact with the soil. Less than 30 percent of all surface-applied manure on corn fields is incorporated. Surface application without incorporating into the soil or applying manure through an irrigation system results in less nutrient retention and lower fertilizer value. Farmers gauge manure moisture content to determine which application method to use when addressing crop nutrient needs. On operations such as swine or dairy farms, it is common to use water to wash manure out of barns, creating lagoon and slurry liquid manure with a high water content. Liquid manure is usually applied to the land’s surface, but roughly 20 percent is injected into the soil using specialized equipment like a manure injector. Only a small portion of liquid manure stored in lagoons is sprayed through irrigation systems. Poultry and beef feedlot manures are typically dry or semisolid. Almost all dry or semisolid manures are surface applied. In 2020, more acres were planted to corn (90.8 million acres) in the United States than any other crop, and a larger percentage of corn acres (16.3 percent) received manure than any other crop. This chart appears in the ERS report Increasing the Value of Animal Manure for Farmers, published in March 2023.
Monday, July 24, 2023
In 2020, manure was applied to about 8 percent of the 240.9 million acres planted to 7 major U.S. field crops. Most manure applied to U.S. cropland (78 percent) comes from animals raised on the same operation, while 14 percent is purchased and 8 percent is obtained at no cost from other animal operations. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) survey data show that crop farmers received compensation from animal producers for taking manure for less than 1 percent of the manure applied, noted as “Obtained with compensation” in the chart. For most crops, farmers use manure that either comes from their own farm or at no cost from other farms. However, cotton and peanut producers are the most likely to purchase manure, typically from poultry growers. Among all animal manure types, poultry litter has the highest nutrient content, making it less costly to transport. Manure markets tend to be highly localized. When manure is obtained by a crop producer at no cost from the animal producer, that can indicate an excess supply of manure in the local area. Animal producers who apply their operations’ manure to their own crops account for a high proportion of manure used on oats, corn, and barley crops, followed by soybean and wheat. This chart appears in the USDA, ERS report Increasing the Value of Animal Manure for Farmers, published in March 2023.
Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Wholesale egg prices reached record highs in 2022 after avian flu resulted in significant reductions in egg-laying flocks. Avian flu, also known as highly pathogenic avian influenza, is a disease that spreads rapidly in birds and poultry and is often lethal. Cumulative losses attributable to the disease amounted to more than 43 million egg-laying hens. At the height of the disease, in the last weeks of December 2022, weekly egg inventories were 29 percent lower than at the beginning of the year, and prices reached a high of $5.37 per dozen. With no new outbreaks reported in 2023, the size of the egg-laying flock has gradually increased since late 2022, and egg inventories have been steadily recovering. In turn, wholesale prices have fallen sharply, reaching $0.89 per dozen in the first week of May 2023 after a seasonal increase in the weeks leading up to Easter. As of the week ending June 30, 2023, egg inventories were about 24 percent higher than the lowest 2022 values. During the same week, the average price was $1.23 per dozen, about 77 percent lower than the highest average weekly price in 2022. During the summer months, demand for eggs tends to level off as people bake less often. As a result, minimal fluctuation in wholesale egg prices is expected during this period. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook, June 2023. See also the ERS Chart of Note, Avian influenza outbreaks reduced egg production, driving prices to record highs in 2022, published in January 2023.
Thursday, July 6, 2023
In 2021, U.S. residents consumed 20.3 pounds of frozen dairy products per capita, nearly 6 pounds less than in 2000. Per capita consumption of frozen dairy products, which includes ice creams and frozen yogurt among other frozen dairy products, has been declining since the 1990s, dipping to its lowest point in 2021. Consumption of regular ice cream in 2021 was estimated at 12.0 pounds per person, a drop of about 4 pounds from 2000. At 6.4 pounds, per capita consumption of low-fat and nonfat ice cream was roughly the same in 2021 as in 2000. Consumption of other dairy products, including frozen yogurt, sherbet, and miscellaneous frozen dairy products, decreased from 3.4 pounds per person in 2000 to 1.9 pounds in 2021. This downward trend in frozen dairy product consumption is in line with a decline in consumption of caloric sweeteners from 150.9 pounds per capita in 2000 to 127.4 pounds in 2021, reflecting shifting preference among consumers. This chart is drawn from Dairy Data, published by USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS), which provide annual data for per capita consumption of dairy products from 1975 to 2021. Information concerning caloric sweeteners is from ERS’ Sugar and Sweeteners Yearbook Tables. The data for this chart do not account for spoilage, waste, and other losses. For data that take these losses into account, see ERS’ Loss-Adjusted Food Availability.
Monday, July 3, 2023
Between 2013 and 2019, the leading manure application method for farmers of major field crops was to apply manure to the surface without incorporating it—the simplest method in which manure is flailed or sprayed out of wagons and left on the ground. This method was used on 8.3 million acres, including about 6 million acres of corn. Surface application with incorporation was the next most common method, used on 5.5 million acres. With incorporation, manure is first spread on the soil surface and then mixed into the first few inches with a tillage implement, thus increasing its contact with the soil. The least common method was applying or injecting the manure directly in one operation, often with a chisel, disk, or knifing implement, used on 3.2 million acres. Injecting liquid manure below the soil surface or incorporating manure after surface application conserves more nutrients and increases the fertilizer value. Surface application without incorporation results in less nutrient retention. Manure is a valuable source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which can make it a substitute for, or complement to, commercial fertilizers. In 2020, farmers were estimated to have applied manure to about 7.7 percent of the 240.9 million acres planted to 7 major U.S. field crops (corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, oats, peanuts, and barley). This chart appears in the ERS report, Increasing the Value of Animal Manure for Farmers, published in March 2023. See also the Amber Waves article Despite Challenges, Research Shows Opportunity to Increase Use of Manure as Fertilizer, published in April 2023.
Thursday, June 8, 2023
In 2022, the United States exported more than 450,000 metric tons of cheese, valued at approximately $2.3 billion. Top export markets include Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and Canada. U.S. cheese is a mainstay among imported cheeses in these countries. In 2022, U.S. cheese accounted for nearly one-fifth of cheese imported by Canada and Japan by value and nearly one-fourth of cheese imported by Australia. More than 43 percent of cheese shipped to South Korea originated from the United States. U.S. cheese dominates the import market in Mexico, with 87 percent of Mexico’s cheese imports coming from the United States in 2022. All together, these five countries have accounted for nearly two-thirds of U.S. cheese exports since 2019, and U.S. cheese constitutes about a third of the value of all cheese imported by these five markets combined. Free trade agreements have partially supported U.S. cheese exports to each of these markets, including the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), and the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report, U.S. Trade Performance and Position in Global Meat, Poultry, and Dairy Exports, April 2023.
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Frozen wholesale turkey breast prices climbed abruptly in response to the 2022 avian flu outbreak, a disease that led to sharply reduced poultry inventories. Before the outbreak started in February 2022, both frozen whole bird (hen) and wholesale turkey breast prices had been increasing gradually. Cumulative losses because of avian flu surpassed 7 million turkeys, and breast prices peaked at $2.98 per pound in the week ending October 7, 2022. Prices remained elevated for the remainder of the year. Once reports of new outbreaks slowed in mid-December 2022, whole turkey hen prices leveled off. At the same time, breast prices declined, averaging $2.34 per pound in the week ending April 28, 2023. This is $0.32 higher than a similar week in 2022, but down $0.64 from the peak price last year. Divergence in prices between frozen turkey breast meat and whole bird prices is, in part, explained by seasonality; demand for whole birds is much more seasonal than wholesale demand for turkey breast meat. Turkey breasts are more versatile than whole hens. At 4-8 pounds, turkey breasts can be sold directly at the retail level or used in deli meats and other processed products. This chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook, May 2023.
Thursday, June 1, 2023
In 2022, dairy farmers received a larger share of the retail price of Cheddar cheese than during the previous year. The ratio of what dairy farmers received for the milk used in making Cheddar cheese (farm value) compared with what consumers paid in grocery stores (retail price), called the farm share, increased to 36 percent from 29 percent in 2021. The farm value of the 10.3 pounds (1.2 gallons) of milk used to make a pound of Cheddar cheese rose 49 cents to $2.06 in 2022 from $1.57 after subtracting the value of the whey coproduct. However, the average retail cheese price increased only 32 cents to $5.76 per pound from $5.44 the previous year. U.S. dairy farmers faced high operational costs and increased their collective output by less than one tenth of one percent in 2022, leaving milk processors and cheese manufacturers to compete for limited milk supply at a higher price. Wholesale prices for Cheddar cheese rose by 21 percent when packaged in 40-pound blocks and by 31 percent for 500-pound barrels. Retailers absorbed much of these wholesale price increases instead of passing them on to consumers. This allowed domestic use of American-type cheeses (including Cheddar, Colby, Monterey, and Jack) to increase above 2021 levels. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) hosted a data training webinar in 2022 on farm-to-retail price spreads and farm share statistics. More information on farm share data can be found in the ERS Price Spreads from Farm to Consumer data product, updated in April 2023.
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Tight cattle inventories and record wholesale beef prices through the first 3 months of 2023 have supported a stronger-than-expected seasonal climb in fed cattle prices—prices for slaughter-ready steers marketed by feedlots. Reported prices for a 5-area marketing region including Texas/Oklahoma/New Mexico; Kansas; Nebraska; Colorado; and Iowa/Minnesota set a record at $180.44 per hundredweight (cwt) for the week ending April 16, 2023, surpassing the previous high in November 2014. Prices averaged over $177 per cwt in April 2023, more than $35 above April 2022, and $46 higher than the 2013–22 average for the month of April. Drought, forage availability, and high input costs have led producers to liquidate their herds over the last few years, shrinking the national herd size. As of April 1, 2023, a more than 4 percent decrease year-over-year in the total number of cattle on feed is evidence of the continuation of this trend. Through the rest of 2023, cattle inventory in the United States is expected to remain tighter than last year, supporting higher prices as beef demand remains strong. The forecast price in the 5-area marketing region for 2023 is $167 per cwt, more than $22 higher than the previous year. With even fewer cattle expected to be marketed in 2024, beef supplies are projected to remain tight while prices are forecast to increase $6 to $172 per cwt. This chart appears in the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook: May 2023.
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Changes in beef cow inventory are related to the phases of the cattle cycle—the expansion (increase) and contraction (decrease) of the U.S. beef cattle herd over time. This cycle evolves gradually and tends to span 8 to 12 years. The cyclical pattern follows the biological nature of beef cattle production and cattle producers’ responses to changes in prices and climate conditions. The current cattle cycle, which began in 2014, is now in a contraction phase, with inventory contracting at an increasing rate each year since 2020. On January 1, 2023, U.S. beef cow inventory was 28.9 million head, 3.6 percent less than the previous year. Drought is a significant contributor to recent declines in beef cow inventory, in part because of the detrimental effects of dry weather patterns on pasture and range conditions. At the start of 2023, nearly 93 percent of U.S. beef cows were in States where most of the pasture and range were rated in “very poor” to “fair” condition based on data from the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Cattle producers periodically provide supplemental feed, such as hay, to maintain animals when pasture conditions are poor. According to NASS, producers faced record-high prices of non-alfalfa hay during the last two quarters of 2022 and in each month through the beginning of 2023. High hay prices increase the cost of maintaining cattle and provide an incentive for producers to remove cattle from their herds. Except for one month in 2022, monthly beef cow slaughter has been higher year over year since March 2021. Meanwhile, beef cow inventory has settled at progressively lower levels since the 1990–2004 cattle cycle. This trend is consistent with the general decline in cattle inventories observed since 1975. This chart appears in the special article published in the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook: March 2023 .
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Hog producers pay close attention to the weights at which they market hogs. Hog feed rations, whose principal components are corn and high-protein soybean meal, typically account for more than half of hog production costs. Producers will often add additional weight to hogs when hog prices offset the additional costs of doing so. In the three years leading up to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, hog weights reflected moderate feed costs and hog prices. Hog dressed weights, the weight of the animal available after processing, averaged 212 pounds per hog. As the U.S. economy reopened in 2021 after shutdowns related to COVID-19, demand for pork increased significantly. Consequently, 2021 hog prices increased dramatically, reflecting recovery of the processing sector and reduced pork production. Dressed weights responded to higher hog prices in 2021, averaging almost 214.7 pounds, despite significantly higher feed costs. Through most of 2022, lower production combined with strong consumer demand drove hog prices to year-over-year higher levels, largely compensating producers for increased costs of adding weight to hogs. Dressed weights in 2022 averaged 215.6 pounds per head compared with 214.7 pounds in 2021. However, average dressed weights dropped below previous year levels in late 2022. Factors including inflation, high interest rates, economic uncertainty, and negative producer returns in November and December created incentives for producers to market hogs at lighter weights. This trend has continued through the first 9 weeks of 2023. During this time, hog weights averaged 217.4 pounds—1.1 pounds below 2022 because of high feed costs, weak consumer demand in the current inflationary environment, and disease losses in major hog-producing States. This chart first appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook, March 2023.
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
The proximity of livestock production helps explain the type of manure farmers apply to crops. Livestock production is geographically concentrated in the United States, and manure can be expensive to transport because of its low nutrient density and high proportion of water. Accordingly, farmers typically apply the type of manure that is available from local animal production. Since most hogs are produced in the Midwest, hog manure is applied more often to corn and soybeans that are grown in the region. Dairies, which tend to be located in the western, midwestern, and northeastern U.S., supply the largest share of manure applied to corn, barley, and oats. Most chickens are raised in the southeastern U.S. and poultry manure is used to meet crop nutrient needs of cotton and peanuts that are mainly grown in the region. Beef cattle operations in the Great Plains supply more than 50 percent of the manure applied to wheat acreage. In 2020, manure was applied to about 8 percent of the 240.9 million acres planted to seven major U.S. field crops. This chart appears in the USDA, Economic Research Service report Increasing the Value of Animal Manure for Farmers, published March 2023.
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Manure has long been used as a source of primary plant nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. However, the proportions available in manure are unlikely to match a crop’s nutrient needs perfectly. For instance, while manure could be used to satisfy many crops’ nitrogen requirements, this would result in more phosphorus being applied than what most crops need. Excessive application of manure on cropland can cause nutrients to accumulate in soil, leach, or to run off into nearby bodies of water. To help avoid over-application of nutrients, farmers can test the nutrient content of manure, restrict manure applications, and/or apply just enough supplemental commercial fertilizer nutrients to meet their crop’s needs. Between 2013 and 2019, producers of seven major crops in the United States who used manure were asked how much manure they applied per acre on these croplands. Using this information, ERS estimated crop nutrient application rates. Corn received the highest application rate of nitrogen from a manure source—92 pounds per acre—followed by cotton, wheat, barley, oats, soybeans, and peanuts. Cotton led phosphorus application at 37 pounds per acre, and corn led potassium application at 59 pounds per acre. Soybeans and peanuts require less nitrogen fertilization; therefore, they were applied with the lowest manure nitrogen application rates. Manure applied to soybeans and peanuts is valued primarily for its phosphorus and potassium. In 2020, manure was applied to about 8 percent of the 240.9 million acres planted to 7 major U.S. field crops. This chart appears in the USDA, Economic Research Service report Increasing the Value of Animal Manure for Farmers, published March 2023.
Thursday, March 23, 2023
For most crops, small-scale farmers are more likely than large-scale farmers to apply manure. The smallest 25 percent of farms (by planted area) were more likely to apply manure than any other farm size group for five of seven crops studied: corn, barley, oats, soybeans, and wheat—all except cotton and peanuts. For example, among the smallest 25 percent of corn farmers, roughly half applied manure. On the other hand, only 13 percent of the largest corn farmers applied manure to their corn. This pattern of small-scale farmers using manure as a crop nutrient source more than other size farmers may be partly explained by specialization. Larger crop farms are more likely to specialize and not diversify their operations with animal production, limiting access to manure produced on the farm. Manure was applied to about 8 percent of the 240.9 million acres planted to the seven major U.S. field crops. Manure supplies nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to growing crops and can improve soil quality. This chart appears in the USDA, Economic Research Service report Increasing the Value of Animal Manure for Farmers, published March 2023.
Thursday, March 16, 2023
Retail prices for various red meats, poultry, and egg products fluctuate and are influenced by various economic factors, including inflation. However, the protein content of animal products—a physical characteristic associated with products of animal origin—is fixed, allowing for dollar value per gram of protein comparisons. Between 2019 and 2022, the retail price per gram of protein for a number of animal products trended higher with inflation. Despite increasing in dollar value, the relative rankings of those selected products were mostly unchanged. During 2022, successive Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreaks adversely affected the U.S. egg supply. Decreases in supply combined with strong egg demand pushed retail egg prices to record levels. As egg prices surged in 2022 and early 2023, the cost per gram of protein rankings began to shift. On a per gram of protein basis, eggs were competitively priced with boneless chicken breasts and pork chops by October 2022. By December 2022, eggs were on par with ground beef. In February, eggs were still one of the most expensive sources of protein among the selected animal products at 5.7 cents per gram of protein. This comes despite a 12.8-percent drop from the January peak of 6.4 cents. Historically, eggs and chicken legs have been the two lowest cost sources of protein among red meats, poultry, and egg products. Between 2019 and 2021, eggs were the least expensive source of protein in 20 out of 36 months. This chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook: February 2023.