Cage-Free Activism at the University of Georgia

Nov 20, 2015

A 30-person student organization styled Speak Out for Species is attempting to pressure the University of Georgia, Food Services Division to transition from conventional eggs to product derived from non-confined hens. It appears that the Humane League a nonprofit is helping Speak Out for Species in their efforts. Over the past few years, a number of endowed colleges have converted from conventional to “cage-free” eggs including Emory University, Emerson College and Boston University.

Currently the University of Georgia purchases eggs from flocks which conform to industry welfare standards. A spokesperson for the University catering services noted that the transition would involve additional expense with a differential of close to $1.00 per dozen for “cage-free” eggs.  The university would not be able to absorb this and would have to pass the cost on to students, faculty and staff dining in university halls.

This is an example where 30 activists are attempting to increase the cost of food for thousands of consumers. The usual spurious claims are being made by Speak out for Species relating to “filthy wire cages” and “massive battery-cage egg farms”.  The situation is reminiscent of the aftermath of California Proposition #2 which has effectively imposed a “Pacelle Tax” on all consumers in the state without any demonstrable benefit to flocks either in the state or regions supplying under California law AB 1437

University of Georgia scientists including Dr. Bruce Webster, Professor and Extension Coordinator in the Poultry Science Department of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences have pointed out that all eggs produced in the U.S. from commercial farms holding more than 3,000 hens fall under the FDA Salmonella Prevention Rule and are therefore safe.  Claims for enhanced sustainability are also false given the efficiency of intensive egg production with respect to space, power utilization and feed conversion. 

Opposition to eggs from cages continues and obviously the industry has an obligation to provide factual information regarding the relative advantages of both confined and non-confined systems.  It is however essential to dispel falsehoods relating to safety and sustainability and to allow students to make informed decisions based on the realities of cost and their personal sentiments.

The industry produces eggs from conventional systems according to predetermined science-based standards in addition to eggs from non-confined flocks and even free-range flocks.  This choice is beneficial to consumers who can evaluate alternatives and purchase accordingly.


Egg Industry News


New E.coli Cases Revealed Among Chipotle Customers

Nov 22, 2015


Recent press reports have indicated that the E.coli O:26 strain infection which infected customers of six stores operated by Chipotle Mexican Grill in Seattle WA and Portland OR was over and following decontamination all 43 stores closed for decontamination were reopening.

On Friday 20th November the CDC announced four incident (new) cases in New York, Ohio and Minnesota. The total of confirmed cases with a common serotype has now attained 45 with 16 hospitalizations but no reports of either HUS or fatalities consistent with the strain involved.

Since the period over which implicated Chipotle restaurants in Washington State and Oregon have been closed exceeds the accepted incubation period for E.coli enteritis it remains to be determined whether the vehicle of infection (not yet identified) is common to other areas where Chipotle operates or whether the infections were acquired by travelers to the Northwest, possibly patronizing recently re-opened stores. Epidemiologic investigations should resolve outstanding questions over the next few days.

Irrespective of whether or not Chipotle is responsible for the four incident cases in three states the share price was severely affected after the 14H00 EST posting of the joint CDC and FDA report. Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) opened at $610 on Friday but closed down 12.3 percent at $536.


Blue Bell Creameries Resumes Operations

Nov 20, 2015

Press reports on November 18th confirm that Blue Bell Creameries has resumed operation at the Brenham, TX plant which was closed after Listeria was detected in the plant following a traceback from hospitalized patients. Blue Bell previously resumed production at other plants located in Alabama and Oklahoma. 

Greg Bridges VP of Operations for the Company stated “Over the past several months we have been preparing our facility for this day.”  Extensive decontamination and changes in operating procedures have been implemented under FDA surveillance. 

Reports posted on CHICK-CITE (March 27th;April 15th and July 22nd) have documented the financial impact of the Listeria contamination and the deficiencies which were documented in plants operated by Blue Bell Creameries. The family-owned company which has operated for over 180 years was obliged to sell equity to outside investors to survive.


Consumer Loyalty to Supermarkets Evaluated

Nov 20, 2015

The Temkin Group based in Waban, MA. Recently reported on a survey to rate the loyalty of 10,000 U.S. consumers across 290 companies in 20 sectors.  The criteria applied included the likelihood of the consumer continuing to purchase from the company, recommending it to friends, forgiving mistakes and trying new offerings.

Among supermarkets which attained high ranking in the survey, H-E-B, Publix and Trader Joe’s generated the most customer loyalty.  H-E-B was ranked second overall in the survey with a score of 73 percent and Publix and Trader Joe’s tied for third place at 72 percent.  Other companies with high scores included Aldi and Hy-Vee tied at 7th place with scores of 70 percent.  Kroger and Whole Food Markets at 17th place with 67 percent and Costco and Wegman’s Food Markets tied at 23rd place with 66 percent.

The top 23 companies are shown in the table below together with the lowest ranked companies.  Fortunately none of the low-scoring entities are involved in the food industry. The laggards include HMOs and utilities. This is a sad commentary on the status of so-called “service” enterprises.


McDonald’s to Reduce Administrative and General Expenses

Nov 20, 2015

In a recent interview with CNBC, Steve Easterbrook CEO of McDonald’s Corporation indicated that the company intends to reduce administrative and general expenses by $500 million annually by end of 2017.  Easterbrook emphasized that the Company will continue to invest in

Promotion, R & D and training but did not elaborate on how the cuts would be made. 

He was adamant that the company did not wish to “disrupt the momentum we are seeing in the business because that is where the greatest value creation exists for all stakeholders including shareholders.”  He confirmed that the company has adequate free cash flow to maintain the 3 percent dividend.

McDonald’s Corp. has also established a target of refranchising 4,000 company owned restaurants by the end of 2018.  In the interview Easterbrook commented on the decision not to monetize real estate through REITS. This was based on the fundamental relationship with franchisees and the tremendous disruption which would be caused.  He noted that the decision not to sell real estate was unanimous among the Board and was based on extensive research involving both in-company investigations and the opinions of specialist consultants.


Market Intelligence Forum

Nov 20, 2015

In a November press release, USPOULTRY announced the Market Intelligence Forum which will be held on Wednesday January 27th from 09H00 to 11H30 EST in the GWCC concurrently with the 2016 IPPE.  Speakers will include Dr. Paul Aho of Poultry Prospectives who will discuss Domestic and Global Drivers for 2016; Christen Richter of the Policy Group will provide a Washington Review and Mike Donohue of AgriStats will discuss Performance Trends for the Poultry and Egg Industries

The Chairman of USPOULTRY, Sherman Miller of Cal-Maine Foods noted “the Market Intelligence Forum continues to be a popular program on the Expo schedule and we are pleased to include it again the 2016 education lineup.”  He added “This program helps keep industry leaders up to date on the many factors that influence financial performance.”

For further information concerning the IPPE access www.ixppexpo.org.


Positive Local Publicity for Eggs in Tennessee

Nov 20, 2015

Ashley Richardson, of the American Egg Board recently reported on a widely distributed interview promoting eggs in the weekly AEB Media Update.  In a televised report Khrysta Baig a Registered Dietician affiliated to the Knox County Health Department noted that “It is possible to consume an egg each without any deleterious effect on blood lipids”. 

Baig noted “The cholesterol in your food is not the same as the cholesterol in your blood.  From what we understand now the levels of cholesterol in your blood are linked with saturated and trans fat consumption, exercise and genetics.”  She added “Cholesterol in your blood is only marginally related to your cholesterol consumption.”

Baig also commented positively on the nutrient content of eggs including vitamins and protein.

Ms. Baig noted that “Eggs are a healthy and inexpensive source of protein and should be eaten as part of a balanced diet.”


Ben Dellaert Elected Chairman of IEC

Nov 20, 2015

Ben Dellaert, currently the Secretary for Avined, Pluymned and Ovoned, the collective organizations for the poultry and egg sectors in the Netherlands has been elected as the Chairman of the International Egg Commission (IEC) for a two-year term.  He succeeds Cesar de Anda of Mexico.  Previously Dellaert was Vice-Chairman of the IEC.

The organization represents 300 members from 79 nations with a concentration in North America and the EU.  Dellaert noted that the IEC has expanded in Asia in recent years.  The organization has given rise to the International Egg Foundation to advance consumption of eggs in developing countries and the Egg Nutrition Consortium to collect and disseminate information on the nutrient value of eggs.

Projects to be undertaken by Dellaert in his term of office will include enhancing sustainability and increasing the number of members especially in Asia and Latin America.


Taco Bell to Source Cage-Free Eggs

Nov 20, 2015

In a November 16th release, Taco Bell stated that it will source eggs from non-confined flocks for their 6,000 U.S. restaurants by 2017. The company has joined other QSRs, food service companies and casual dining restaurants in moving away from conventional cages for supply flocks.



Nov 20, 2015

Concurrent with the IPPE, US POULTRY will present a program Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza- Lessons Learned to take place on Thursday, January 28, 2016 in Room A-411 of the GWCC from 08H30 to 12H00.

A panel of experienced specialists will review aspects of the outbreak. Speakers will include Dr. Lindsey Garber of the USDA- APHIS on Epidemiology, Dr. David Swayne on Vaccination, Dr. Ben Willeman of AgForte on the impact of HPAI on the turkey industry and Dr. Jill Nezworski a poultry practitioner on lessons learned by the layer industry.  

Registration for the program will be $100 for IPPE attendees. 

For further information access www.ippexpo.org.


Hoover Egg Company to be Sold at Sheriff’s Sale

Nov 20, 2015

According to an official notification issued by the San Bernardino Superior Court, assets of the Hoover Egg company will be sold at public auction on December 9, 2015 at 10H00 PST at the entrance to the San Bernardino County Superior Court, 351 North Arrowhead Avenue, San Bernardino.

The Hoover Egg Company was established by Herb and Deloris Hoover in the immediate post WWII period.  The current owners comprise a general partnership with a trust established in 1976.  James A. Hoover has served as the managing partner since the passing of his brother Richard.

Over past years, the Hoover Egg Company has experienced complaints and sanctions as a result of fly and rodent nuisance and was the recipient of an FDA 483 citation issued in terms of their Salmonella Prevention Plan which addressed deficiencies in the Farm Plan and rodent control.


Cambodia Reports H5N1

Nov 20, 2015

Officials in Cambodia have reported an outbreak of HPAI in subsistence and village duck flocks to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The outbreak which was reported by farmers was investigated by Provincial veterinary services resulting in the diagnosis and confirmation.  Cambodia previously reported H5N1 infection in poultry in March consistent with the seasonal pattern observed in Asia.


Biosecurity Audit Scoresheet

Nov 20, 2015

With concern over the re-introduction of HPAI in the Spring of 2016 Producers should have completed their improvements to Structural and Operational Bissecurity. To ascertain risk of infection  and as a service to Subscribers EGG-CITE has reproduced boiler plate scoresheets to help guide internal and third party audits. The specific criteria and their weighting can be adjusted according to the scope, location or special circumstances pertaining to a company or its activities.


 Target Reports on Q3 of FY 2015

Nov 20, 2015

In a press release dated November 18th Target Corporation announced results for the 3rd Quarter of Fiscal 2015 ending October 3rd.

(click the More Button to view the numbers and comments)


USDA Price and Inventory Report, November 16th 2015.

Nov 18, 2015

Midwest wholesale prices for Extra Large and Large sizes were up by 8 percent after a 15 percent rise during the previous week, reversing the trend of substantial declines in price over the preceding seven weeks. Mediums were unchanged in price this past week.

The USDA Combined Region Regular Large value for commodity eggs which lags by one week from the Midwest quotation as tabulated was up by 26 cents per dozen to $1.91 compared to $1.65 last week but far below the peak plateau of $2.77 in mid-August.  This suggests an increase in price during the immediate 4-week future consistent with seasonal trends but weighted by the price and volume produced in the Midwest.

The price range for the four USDA regions extended from $1.87 per dozen ($1.61 previous week) in the Midwest to $1.96 per dozen ($1.71 previous week) in the S. Central Region. At present the Combined Regional price is about 65 cents per dozen above the 3-year average and closely following the pattern in 2014 preceding implementation of Proposition #2 in California.


Status of Corn and Soybean Crops

Nov 18, 2015

The USDA Crop Progress Report issued on Monday, November 16th indicated a continued favorable trend in harvesting corn expressed as a percentage of the 2015 crop as tabulated below:-

                                                     Week Ending      

Crop                                   November 8th            November 16th            5-year Average      

Corn Harvested                      93%                           96%                             94%

Soybeans Harvested               95%                           ALL                        COMPLETE

The actual yields, acreage harvested and hence the quantum of the 2015 corn and soybean crops were documented in the November WASDE and were posted on both CHICK-CITE and EGG-CITE on November 13th.


Mycotoxin Content of Corn

Nov 18, 2015

Neogen conducts mycotoxin surveys using their test kits to evaluate the status of the corn harvest each Fall.

In a recent posting, the company noted “scattered reports of aflatoxin” levels in newly harvested corn ranging from lows of 20 ppb in South Carolina and Alabama to 200 ppb in samples from Virginia. Assays on corn harvested in North Carolina and Oklahoma yielded levels in the region of 100 ppb. Generally levels in excess of 100 ppb should be cause for concern with respect to young poultry flocks.  Mature laying flocks are generally refractory to low levels of aflatoxins.


Trillium Farms Intend to Erect a “Mega-Barn” Holding 750,000 Hens

Nov 18, 2015


The addition of a barn holding 750,000 hens would increase the capacity of farm in Hardin County with 14 existing houses to a total of 2 million hens.

An application has been made to Hardin County incorporating plans for manure management insect and rodent control and an emergency response proposal. It is intended to install belt-battery cages and the flock in the house would produce manure to be stored for 200 days.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture will accept comments on the requested permit to erect the new building.


First USDA Organic Certified QSR Opens

Nov 18, 2015

The Organic Coup the first organic QSR opened in Pleasanton, CA. near San Francisco on Tuesday November 10th,.

The Founder, Erica Welton claims that the store uses USDA-certified ingredients for 95 percent of the menu offerings including a chicken breast sandwich, slaw, a tortilla wrap and caramel-coated popcorn.

Welton established the model while working for Costco, recognizing the trend towards organic consumption.  The success of the initial store will determine whether the concept can be franchised and extended as a chain.  The signature sandwich will cost $9.00 which is considerably higher than stores offering antibiotic-free and GM-free items.


Restocking after HPAI is Proceeding

Nov 18, 2015

The USDA-APHIS has announced that all affected farms in Iowa are now eligible to restock and that quarantines imposed on commercial egg and turkey units have been cancelled.  Among the larger operation, Rembrandt Foods will commence restocking in early 2016 at their eponymous complex in Iowa.


Depopulation due to HPAI in Taiwan

Nov 18, 2015

EGG-CITE has previously commented on recurring outbreaks of H5-strain HPAI in Taiwan.  The Focus Taiwan news channel reports that approximately 11,000 ducks were depleted on November 4th followed by 7,000 chickens in central Yunlin County on November 7th.  Depletion, disposal of carcasses and decontamination is under the control of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine which falls under the Council of Agriculture.


Ohio Egg Industry Promoting Food Truck

Nov 18, 2015

The Ohio Egg Processors Association has launched the Fowl Mood Food Truck which will operate in and around Columbus.  According to the Executive Vice President of the Ohio Egg Processors Association, Jim Chakeres the concept was derived from food trucks which operate in Portland, OR. Naturally the concentration in Columbus will be on eggs and chicken.  A veteran food truck operator will manage the enterprise which will serve sandwiches featuring egg salad, provolone cheeses and shredded chicken in addition to sliced turkey sandwiches and bagels topped with fried eggs.

The Fowl Mood Food Truck debuted at the Ohio State-Minnesota Football game and served 3,000 deviled eggs. Chakeres noted that if the food truck is successful, it could serve as a model for other centers in the U.S.


North Carolina Department of Agriculture Issues Warning on Outside Access For Organic Birds

Nov 18, 2015

A memorandum dated November 9th addressed to producers of organic eggs, signed by Dr. R. Douglas Meckes, State Veterinarian and Dr. Sarah J. Mason, Director of Animal Health Programs for Poultry, has strongly advised against outside access for poultry based on the fall waterfowl migration.  Noting that the Mississippi flyway encompasses Western North Carolina and extends from Canada to the Gulf, poultry flocks in the state are at risk of exposure to HPAI carried by migratory waterfowl.

Recommendations made by the department include:-

  • Moving all poultry currently allowed outside access into biosecure housing with immediate effect
  • Implementing  strict biosecurity with an emphasis on personnel
  • Monitoring flocks for any untoward sign of disease including a drop in water or feed consumption

Similar recommendations have been made by the directors of veterinary health and commissioners of agriculture departments in other states.


Shane Commentary


Crop Farmers Facing Hard Times

Nov 18, 2015

The financial problems faced by farmers were highlighted in the Thursday, November 12th edition of Wall Street Journal, placing in perspective the postings on crop progress and the November WASDE Report.

Soybeans closed on Wednesday 11th at $8.69 per bushel and corn at $3.62 per bushel.  These prices are at or near the cost of production.  Farmers, who grow on leased land, representing almost 40 percent of acreage, are renegotiating land-rents with their landlords to break even.  The USDA estimates values for leases of $150 per acre nationwide but in areas with high yields, lease payments can reach $250 per acre.  It is noted that rentals increases sharply after the 2012 harvest when soybeans rose above $16.00 per bushel and corn peaked at over $8.00 per bushel.

The low prices which have contributed to improved margins for egg, broiler and turkey producers have adversely impacted allied industries. The share price of Deere is down 15 percent on the year and Monsanto by 22 percent.  Low prices will also have an impact in rural communities.

It is possible with Iowa as the first state to select a candidate that commodity prices will influence the platforms of both political parties as the election year approaches. Problems faced by the crop-farming sector include a high value for the dollar against Brazilian and Argentine currency which has limited exports.  Low oil prices also have an effect on the value and demand for ethanol.


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Dr. Simon M. Shane
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Industry Prices: Tue Nov 24
 Corn3.70 $/bu
 Soybeans8.66 $/bu
 Soybean Meal284.90 $/ton
 Eggs, Producer200  ¢/doz
 Eggs, Warehouse 215-218 ¢/doz