by Ken Root and Whitney Flach
Two years ago, consumers were demanding eggs from hens that had breathing room, hens that were not in cages. Now, the price of traditionally produced eggs is down and those same consumers have a different point of view.
As more companies pledge to source eggs from cage-free hens, research shows consumers are backing away from the higher priced products. Marketplace Sustainability website, reports that despite the wave of companies going cage-free, the premium-priced eggs are not selling well. Reportedly, the sluggish sales are making producers hesitate to invest in cage-free systems. The sales figures indicate a reversal from research last year, because avian influenza increased all egg prices to a higher level. Now, conventional egg prices are down considerably, making cage-free eggs pricey by comparison.
One egg market analyst said that consumers can go into a store, and buy a couple dozen in some cases for under $1, and are still paying $2-$3 for cage-free eggs, while adding that cage-free sales are suffering. The changes have prompted some producers to delay or even cancel their orders for cage-free equipment from leading providers of cage-free housing.