Attendance was at an all-time high during the Egg Industry Center’s 6th annual Egg Industry Issues Forum held this month in the US city of Indianapolis.
More than 180 owners, experts and industry leaders attended the April 15-16 event. The producers attending represented operations housing more than 50% of the US egg-laying flock. The allied industry members made up a third of those registered. Also attending were university faculty, association staff and media.
During the forum David Fikes of the Food Marketing Institute presented a consumer survey conducted by the Center For Food Integrity. Among many insightful things, the survey listed the top six concerns for consumers. Two of the top six related to the food industry: the rising cost of food and keeping healthy food affordable. The other top issues were unemployment, rising energy costs, the US economy and rising costs of health care.
Bernie Beckman of Hy-Line North America, reported the large cost of focal duodenal necrosis (FDN). The relatively limited clinical signs of the disease often result in thousands of dollars lost due to decreased production and egg weight. The industry is in need of new affordable treatment options for this disease.
Darrin Karcher of Michigan State University presented the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) flock one results. These preliminary findings include: more fractures to the foot and wings of birds during placement in the enriched colony system; the highest overall moralities, ammonia levels, dust levels and cost per dozen eggs in the aviary system. The aviary house also showed the most severe foot problems for the affected birds. The conventional cage system had the highest incidence of foot problems and lacked ability for birds to express natural behaviors (i.e., nesting, perching, dust bathing or foraging); however, birds housed in this system showed the lowest number of breastbone deviations. When assessing the ergonomic impacts on workers, findings showed collecting floor eggs and population and depopulation of houses resulted in prolonged severe body positions.
The economic consultant for the International Egg Commission, Peter van Horne, prepared a European Union (EU) egg industry economic perspective. Van Horne discussed how production costs of eggs in the EU were 25% higher than in the US. Also, he outlined the EU market protection mechanism was mostly through import levies. Van Horne revealed that during both hen housing transition periods, egg prices were high, and after the transition concluded there was a period of low prices. He explained how these fluctuations have had a negative impact on the entire food chain including farmers, packers, industry and retail. He indicated that future housing regulations should consider increasing space allowances in phases.
Additional speaker's highlights are posted on the Egg Industry Center website, within the Incredible Update – 2014 Special Edition, Forum Wrap Up.