The US government reversed its outlook for bigger egg production this year and now expects that output will fall for the first time since 2008 after the worst domestic outbreak of bird flu ever killed millions of hens.
Production will drop 0.1 per cent to 8.323 billion dozen in 2015, the US Department of Agriculture said Tuesday. In April, the agency estimated output would rise 0.9 per cent to 8.41 billion, which would have been a record in data since 1990.
The forecast was cut because highly pathogenic avian influenza “will constrain production growth,” the USDA said in a report. The estimate includes eggs sold in grocery stores and those that are hatched.
Egg-laying hens have been the biggest victims of the outbreak that’s swept through American poultry farms, infecting flocks of more than 30 million chickens, turkeys and other birds. More than three-quarters of those have been in Iowa, the country’s top egg producer. At stake is the more than $10 billion produced annually from egg production, USDA figures show.
Total poultry and egg output was valued at $48 billion in 2014. Buyers in the Middle East and Asia have placed restrictions on American exports, while governors in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin have declared states of emergency in response to the outbreak. Birds in flocks with the virus are destroyed, and none of the animals enter the food chain, the USDA has said.
Bloomberg News, edited by ESM