Cal-Maine Foods, America’s top egg producer and distributor, temporarily halted production at one of its facilities in Kansas due to an outbreak of avian influenza.

The outbreak affected “approximately 684,000 laying hens, or approximately 1.6% of the Company’s total flock,” a press release from the company stated.

“Production at the facility has temporarily ceased as the Company follows the protocols prescribed by the USDA. Cal-Maine Foods is working to secure production from other facilities to minimize disruption to its customers,” the press release continued.

From Cal-Maine Foods:

According to the USDA, these detections do not present an immediate public health concern and are not a threat to the food supply. Also, according to the USDA, HPAI cannot be transmitted through safely handled and properly cooked eggs or poultry. There is no known risk related to HPAI associated with eggs that are currently in the market and no eggs have been recalled.

There have been no positive tests for HPAI at any other Cal-Maine Foods locations to date. Cal-Maine Foods believes it has implemented and continues to maintain robust biosecurity programs across all its locations. Additional strict protocols are in place designed to prevent exposure from the Kansas facility to other locations, including the Company’s nearby layer complex which houses approximately one million hens. The Company continues to work closely with federal, state and local government officials and focused industry groups to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks and effectively manage the response.

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The APHIS division of the USDA and individual states track and publicly report individual incidents of HPAI by location. The Company will provide updated information in its next quarterly report to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in January 2024 and does not expect to provide interim updates unless material.

Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. is primarily engaged in the production, grading, packing, marketing and sale of fresh shell eggs, including conventional, cage-free, organic, pasture-raised, free-range and nutritionally enhanced eggs. The Company, which is headquartered in Ridgeland, Mississippi, is the largest producer and distributor of fresh shell eggs in the United States and sells the majority of its shell eggs in states across the southwestern, southeastern, mid-western and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.

Zero Hedge reports:

However, the re-emergence of bird flu should have consumers worried that ‘eggflation’ has returned.

Now, new data from Urner Barry, a market research firm that tracks wholesale food prices, shows its Urner Barry Egg Index has jumped from a low of 48 cents a dozen in May to as high as $1.75 in November. Prices were $4.65 in December 2022.

Urner Barry’s wholesale prices tend to lead as the USDA’s Grade A Egg Retail Per Dozen index appears to have bottomed around $2.

Reuters noted:

It also said that no known HPAI risk associated with eggs were currently in the market and no eggs have been recalled, adding that there were no positive tests for HPAI at any other company locations to date.

Shares of the company were down marginally at $48.80 in extended trading following the news.

More than 72.5 million chickens, turkeys and other birds have been wiped out since the U.S. avian flu outbreak began in February 2022, according to the USDA.

U.S. cases in commercial poultry flocks have increased since October 2023, with experts blaming wild birds for spreading the disease. Kansas had not reported an outbreak in a commercial flock since February 2023, U.S. data shows.

Other large egg-laying operations have also been hit. Ohio confirmed last week that a commercial layer farm with 2.6 million birds was infected and said the birds were being culled.

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