“Cage-free” eggs were supposed to be the next big thing in America. Over the past several years everyone from McDonalds to Wal-Mart has promised to convert to cage-free eggs on the premise that millennial consumers would demand at least 144 square inches of space for the layers of their morning omelettes to frolic in freedom. As it turns out, Americans couldn’t seem to care less whether chickens have 144 square inches of freedom or the hisotrical 67 square inches…they just want cheap eggs, hold the bullshit.
As Bloomberg points out this morning, egg producers all over the country are scrapping plans for cage-free projects as people simply don’t seem to be interested in paying 7.5x more for their “humane” products compared to the same ole eggs they’ve purchased their whole life.
A dozen cage-free large browns cost as much as $2.99 in the Midwest last week, for example, while a carton of Grade AA white conventionals went for as little as 39 cents, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
That “higher-price gap,” as Cal-Maine Foods Inc. CEO Dolph Baker called it, has cut into specialty-egg demand. The company, the largest U.S. egg producer, said earlier this month it is adjusting its cage-free output accordingly.
The largest egg producers, from Rose Acres in Indiana to a project in Arizona, say their shutting down their cage-free capital projects until consumers show in interest in paying a market-clearing price for the product.
The producer, which started turning a profit in September after 15 months in the red, is finishing work on these types of barns in Indiana and Arizona and mothballing another Arizona project, Rust, the CEO, said. Then it’ll wait, for as long as it takes. “We are going to be in a holding mode until retail pays a warranted price.”