Feb 11

The top 20 U.S. egg producers - according to data from Egg Industry's Top Egg Company Survey, which is part of WATT Global Media's database on the world's leading broiler, turkey and egg producers - are ranked according to the size of their layer flocks at the end of 2018.

Collectively, the top 20 U.S. companies account for 244.93 million birds.

1. Cal Maine Foods - 40.25 million hens

The largest producer and marketer of shell eggs in the United States in fiscal 2018, sold approximately 1,037.7 million dozen shell eggs. As of Dec. 31, 2018, Cal-Maine had 40,246,000 laying hens.

Cal-Maine Foods named Sherman Miller president and chief operating officer, effective March 30, 2018.

In April 2018, Cal-Maine Foods issued a voluntary egg recall, as the involved eggs had the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella Braenderup. According to a press release from Cal-Maine Foods, the company was notified of a Salmonella Braenderup-related recall issued by Rose Acre Farms on April 13. The Cal-Maine eggs in question were distributed from that same facility. The Cal-Maine recall amounts to on load, or 23,400 dozen eggs purchased from Rose Acre Farms and repackaged at Cal-Maine's facility in Dade City, Florida.

In June, Cal-Maine Foods named Josh Moore vice president of operations, Moore has responsibility for all of Cal-Maine Foods' production and processing facilities located in Ohio and Kentucky. He assumed the position previously held by Marc Ashby, who became the new director of special projects for the company.

The company named Max P. Bowman vice president and chief financial officer, effective Oct. 5. Bowman was also elected to the company's board of directors at the annual meeting of shareholders held in Jackson, Mississippi. Bowman replaced Tim Dawson. Also in October, Cal-Maine Foods started the 2019 fiscal year with a return to profitability and 29.6 increase in net sales, which were $340.6 million. Reporting the results for the first quarter, which ended on Sept. 1, the world's larger egg company reported a net income of $12.4 million for the first quarter of the 2018 fiscal year.

Cal-Maine Foods has closed the acquisition of substantially all of the assets of Featherland Egg Farms Inc., relating to its commercial shell egg production, processing, distribution and sale business. The company announced the finalized transaction in October.

The acquired assets include commercial egg production and processing facilities with capacity for approximately 600,000 laying hens, a feed mill and related production and distribution facilities near Marion, Texas. Cal-Maine produces caged brown and white eggs, cage-free white and brown eggs, organic and free-range eggs, as well as specialty products. Most of its shell eggs are sold in the southwestern, southeastern, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S. Cal-Maine sells shell eggs to most American retailers.

2. Rose Acre Farms - 26.6 million hens

Rose Acre Farms is a family-owned egg operation that claims the spot of second largest U.S. egg producer. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the company had 26.6 million layers in its flock. In addition to table eggs, Rose Acre Farms produces a variety of egg products ranging from liquid eggs and dried eggs to egg protein powder.

Rose Acre Farms contributed $200,000 to Purdue University's new animal sciences complex, dedicated on March 22 on the school's campus.

In April, Rose Acre Farms voluntarily recalled 206,749,248 eggs because they were potentially contaminated with Salmonella Braenderup, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on April 13. The eggs were distributed from Rose Acre's farm in Hyde County, North Carolina, and reached consumers in Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia through retail stores and restaurants via direct delivery. 

In May, the FDA said proper rodent control methods were not being utilized and other sanitary measures were not being followed at Rose Acre Farms facilities connected to a recent Salmonella Braenderup outbreak.

In June, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on its website that the multistage outbreak of Salmonella Braenderup that was linked to eggs from Rose Acre Farms was over. The outbreak resulted in 45 people from 10 states becoming ill, and 11 of those people were hospitalized. 

A fire claimed a Rose Acre Farms building south of Rensselaer, Indiana, on the evening of Oct. 16. Emergency personnel responded to a call concerning the fire. When responders arrived on the scene, they found the building fully engulfed and collapsing. Chief Deputy Pay Williamson, Jasper County Sheriff's Department, said in a telephone interview. There were no hens in the building, which was several hundred feet north of the main building on the property, Williamson said, adding that it was his understanding that the structure was a workshop that "a lot of tools" were lost.

3. Versova Holdings LLC - 21.1 million hens

Versova, formed in April 2016, is one of the largest egg producers in the United States. Versova combines day-to-day operations of egg producers Centrum Valley Farms LLP, Trillium Farm Holdings LLC and Iowa Cage-free LLP. Centrum Valley, Trillium and Iowa Cage-free will continue to exist independently. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the company's layer flock included 21.1 million laying hens. It produces caged and cage-free white and brown eggs, along with liquid egg products. Versova serves as a holding company with a new management team overseeing business functions of Centrum, Trillium and Iowa Cage-free. It handles marketing, customer relationships, information technology, operations, feed management, human resources and finance. This operation is owned by farm families with more than six generations of knowledge in egg production; those families are Deans, the Hennings and the Boomsmas.

4. Hillandale Farms - 20 million hens

Hillandale Farms is one of the leading suppliers of shell eggs in the U.S. It has production facilities in the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast and supplies retailers and distributors throughout the eastern U.S. The company has 20 million layers and creates egg products.

In May, WTNH reported that Hillandale Farms lost more than 25,000 chickesn as a result of a power outage caused by a storm. The 24-hour outage cost Hillandale Farms in Lebanon about half of its chickens in one part of the building. The backup power system failed, accordning to the farm. WTNH reported that the farm, with the help of the Department of Agriculture, was investigating what went wrong.

5. Daybreak Foods - 14 million hens

Daybreak Foods, Inc. is privately held and is involved in shell egg and egg products production. Its layer flock includes 14 million hens. It produces conventional white ggs and liquid egg products.

Daybreak FOods has been granted an air pollution contorl permit for its planned expansion project in Lake Mills, Wisconsin. The permit was approved by the Wisconsin Department of National Resources on Oct. 17, 2018. With the granting of the permit from the state agency, Daybreak Foods is authorized to construct three pullet houses, five layer barns and supproting equipement such as feed storage bins, heaters and emergency generators, two animal incinterators, three process broilers, two HVAC units, a corn storage bin and feed mill, reported the Lake Mills Leader. Daybreak Foods will have 18 montsh to complete the construction project.

6. Michael Foods - 13.29 million hens

Michael Foods, Inc. is a leading food processor and distributor with business in egg products as well as refrigerated grocery and potato products. The company is the largest supplier of processed eggs in the world. The company is owned by Post Holdings Inc., which purchased it from GS Capital Partners for $2.45 billion in 2014. In 2015, Post completed a $90 million acquisition of Willamette Egg Farms, at the time the 30th largest egg producer in the U.S. As of Dec. 31, 2018, its layer flock included 13.29 million birds.

Post Holding's Refrigerated Foods segment saw its net sales increase 29.3 percent on a year-over-year basis for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2018. The Refrigerated Foods segment includes the operations of egg products company Michael Foods. In a press release that offers an overview of Post Holdings' quarterly financial results, the company also stated that its foodservice egg net sales increased 9.2 percent, driven by a 5.1 percent volume increase and increased market-based pricing.

In January 2018, Post Holdings announced Steve Schonhoff had been promoted to senior vice president of integrated supply chain. The Company combined its supply chain leadership for its Michael Foods and Bob Evans Foods businesses under Schonhoff, who previously was vice president, integrated supply chain for Michael Foods.

According to a company press release in February 2018, Post Holdings, Inc. announced plans for its Michael Foods business to build a 150,000 square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility in Norwalk, Iowa. The $85 million project was planned to begin in summer 2018. The plant, which will process eggs and pre-cooked egg products, is expected to be completed in 2019. The facility is expected to create 100-150 new jobs. 

In May 2018, a Michael Foods plant location in Klingerstown, Pennsylvania, experienced a fire. All employees, were safely evacuated, and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire, which started in the duct work of an oven, was investigated. As of June,  a company statement said the cause of the fire was still being investigated with repairs to the roof and electrical infrastructure in progress. The plant was anticipated to return to full operation by mid-July.

Also in June, a water boil order was issued by the municipal water association servicing its Michael Foods Lenox, Iowa, precooked egg facility.

Post Holdings revealed in the press release that it expects fiscal year 2019 capital expenditures to range between $300 million and $310 million. Two of those capital expenditure projects involve the company's egg operations.

7. Rembrants Enterprises - 12.5 million hens

Rembrandt Enterprises, doing business as Rembrandt Foods, is privately held and focuses on producing egg products for the foodservice and ingredients industries. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the company's layer flock included 12.5 million hens. Rembrandt produces its egg products from white and brown congenitally produced, cage-free, free-range and organic eggs. Its products include liquid egg, dried egg, and hard-cooked peeled eggs. Rembrandt produces consumer and institutional or bulk-packaged egg products.

In March 2018, Rembrandt was recognized as an Iowa Poultry Association member spotlight. 

Accordning to WDHN, in July, Rembrandt Foods notified employees that is Abbeville, Alabama, facility would close by the end of January 2019. More than 50 employees were expected to lose their jobs at the time of the report. 

8. Center Fresh Group - 10.5 million hens

Center Fresh Group was founded by eight Iowa farm families. The company is comprised of five divisions involved in egg production; Center Fresh Egg Farm, Sioux County Egg Farm, Hawkeye Pride, Sioux County Pullets and Center Fresh Africa-Mozambique.

The U.S. farms are in Iowa and Ohio. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the company's layer flock included 10.5 million hens. Center Fresh produces conventionally raised and care-free eggs as well as liquid egg products.

9. Midwest Poultry Services LP - 9.8 million hens

Midwest Poultry Services LP is an Indiana-based shell egg producer for the retail market. It is a family-owned business that employs 500. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the company's layer flock included 9.8 million hens. The company produces conventional white egg, cage-free eggs, free-range eggs, organic eggs and nationally enhanced eggs. According to the company website, it produces 5 million eggs per day and has a delivery range of more than 2,000 miles.

10. Prairie Star Farms - 9.4 million hens

Prairie Star Farms markets the combined egg production of Rindler Poultry, Ross-Medford Farms, Hoosier Pride and J Star Farms. The company raises eggs that are produced under animal care standards to meet all cage-free, California Shell Egg Food Safety Compliant and enriched colony housing regulations. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the company's layer flock included 9.4 million laying hens.

11. Herbruck's Poultry Ranch - 8.65 million hens

Herbruck's Poultry Ranch Inc, is Michigan's largest egg farm. As a fully integrated business, Herbruck's is involved in breeding, agriculture, feed and fertilizer production. The company also partners with 25 small farms to produce organic and cage-free eggs.

Herbruck's Poultry Ranch suffered a fire in an egg cooler at a facility in Lake Odessa, Michigan, on Feb, 9, 2018, but it was contained to the cooler area. Six fire departments from the area responded to the fire, according to the Sentinel Standard. The egg cooler, which measured about 70 feet by 100 feet, was considered a total loss. No hens were harmed in the fire, nor were any Herbruck's workers or emergency responders.

In March 2018, the company was one of six farms across the United States to receive U.S. Poultry & Egg Association's Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award during the 2018 International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta.

According to an April 2018 report, nearly two years after Herbruck's Poultry Ranch announced its intent to build an egg production facility in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, the company was still waiting to start construction. Officials from the Michigan-based egg company were in Pennsylvania on April 18 to cut the ribbon on a new cold storage warehouse project in the town of Chambersburg. While at the ceremony, according to a report also addressed questions about its plans to build what it hopes to be a cage-free egg production facility with eight barns and 2.4 million hens. "The next step is to build the farm," said Greg Herbruck, president of the company.

In September 2018, Herbruck's Poultry Ranch celebrated 60 years of business. The company was founded by Marilyn and Harry Herbruck Jr. in Saranac, Michigan (Ionia County), where the company still has its headquarters.

As of Dec. 31, 2018, the company's layer flock included 8.65 million hens. Herbruck's produces white and brown conventionally raised eggs, cage-free eggs, organic eggs and nutritionally enhanced eggs. It also produces liquid egg products, consumer packed and institutional or build packaged egg products. 

12. Weaver Brothers - 8.5 million hens

Established in 1929, Weaver Brothers Inc. is a fourth-generation family farm still owned and managed by the founding family with the fourth generation of the family now working in versailles, Ohio. The company is fully integrated, featuring grain production, a feed mill and egg production and processing. The company offers organic, cage-free, hard cooked and liquid egg whites. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the company's layer flock included 8.5 million hens.

13. Hickman's Egg Ranch - 8.2 million hens

Founded in 1944, Hickman's Egg Ranch, also known as Hickman's Family Farms, is the largest shell egg producer west of the Rockies. It is a family-owned business with hens in Arizona and Colorado, distribution operations in Iowa, Nevada and California, and customers from Iowa to Hawaii. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the company's layer flock included 8.2 million hens.

In October 2018. Hickman's Family Farms was sued in federal court, as plaintiffs claimed the egg company's farms in Arizona communities of Tonopah and Arlington were heavily polluting the air with ammonia and strong odors. The plaintiffs, which include the environmental group Don't Waste Arizona, allege that the company is aware of the situation but is unwilling to do anything about it. Billy Hickman, the company's vice president of operations, defended Hickman's Family Farms, stating that he believed the odors people are comparing about are coming from dairy farms in the areas.

In September 2017, the company said it was working to meet consumer demands by generating more cage-free egg products, and to branch out to the company's traditional role of farming into the packaging realm to work with a California recycler to develop 100 percent recycled egg cartons. The company website says Hickman's is the first and only egg producer packaging eggs in polyethylene terephthalate, known commonly as "PET", the clear plastic used for water and soda bottle containers. PET is recognized as a safe, non-toxic, strong, lightweight, flexible material that is 100 percent recyclable. The company recycles more than 1 million water bottles weekly for its packaging. 

14. Opal Foods LLC - 8 million hens

Opal Foods, an entity created by Visalia, California, private equity fund AGR Partners, was launched in May 2014 with the acquisition of Moark's Midwest operations. As of Dec. 31, 2018, its layer flock included 8 million hens.

Ozarks Food Harvest received a donation for 23,400 dozen eggs from Opal Foods in March 2018 to feed families in Southwest Missouri. 

In May 2018, Brock Peterson, president Opal Foods, announced that Opal had acquired operating assets of Ham & Eggs LLC and The Good Eggs LLC, two egg-laying operations located in north-central Iowa. The acquired assets include commercial egg production and processing facilities with capacity for approximately 2.6 million laying hens.

The company has more than 250 employees, most of which are in the Neosho, Missouri area. The company specializes in cage-free, organic and all-natural eggs with omega-3s. Opal foods also provides Land O' Lakes with brown eggs.

15. Fremont Farms of Iowa - 7.33 million hens

Fremont Farms of Iowa is a producer and processor of liquid egg products. As of Dec. 31, 2018, its layer flock included 7,329,000 hens.

16. ISE America Inc. - 6.1 million hens

ISE America Inc. is an integrated egg laying and production operation. As of Dec. 31, 2018, it has nearly 6.1 million layers, as well as its own feed mill and shell egg processing plants. It also performs further egg processing, including fresh frozen eggs, liquid eggs and hard-cooked eggs. The company is a subsidiary of ISE Inc., headquartered in Japan. ISE Inc., entered the chicken genetics and breeding industries in Japan in 1912.

17. Sparboe Farms - 5.84 million hens

Started in 1954, Sparboe Farms started as a day-old chick company and has grown during the past 60 years to become a major shell egg producer and marketer in the United States. Its subsidiary Sparboe Foods provides egg products. The company also owns Agri-Tech which produces premixes for lower feed costs. As of Dec. 31, 2018, its layer flock included about 5.84 million hens. It offers a broad platform of white and specialty eggs in a variety of packaging options, along with vegetarian-fed brown eggs, cage-free brown eggs and organic eggs.

18. Kreider Farms - 5.58 million hens

The Kreider family, under the third-generation leadership of Ron Kreider, and a staff of approximately 475 people, operates a farming business encompassing approximately 3,000 acres. The dairy and egg operations, which house 1,7000 dairy cows and 6 million chickens, supply retail and wholesale customers with milk, ice cream and eggs. Kreider Farms supplies shell eggs to supermarkets and wholesalers in the northeastern United States and sells cage-free eggs under the Noah's Pride brand. Kreider is the largest egg producer in Pennsylvania with facilities in Mount Joy, Manheim, Middletown and Mount Pleasant. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the company's layer flock included 5.5 million hens. Kreider produces white and brown, congenitally raised and cage-free, organic and nutritionally raised and cage-free, organic and nutritionally enhanced eggs.

According to a November 2018 report from Digital Journal, the company's products will now be available at Giant Food Stores in central Pennsylvania. This expansion comes as part of Kreider Farms' intentional growth strategy for its dairy business, which included a $5 million investment in generating new production capacity, completed in 2017.

19. Gemperle Farms - 5 million hens

Gemperle Farms produces all varieties of eggs from enriched colony barn eggs to specialty eggs such as browns, organic, cage free, omega-3 and cage-free fertile. All the company's eggs are produced without hormones or antibiotics. As of Dec. 31, 2018, the company's layer flock included 5 million hens.

20. Mid-States Specialty Eggs - 4.44 million hens

Mid-States Specialty Eggs is an egg producer with a layer flock of 4,438,000 million hens. Mid-States Specialty Eggs was founded in 2008 and is based in Smithton, Missouri with certified organic farms in Missouri and Arkansas and grading operations also in both states. According to the company's website, "Eggs graded by Mid-States Specialty Eggs are sold by Eggs R Us Inc." Mid-States Specialty Eggs is a certified producer of free-range, cage-free, pasture-raised, organic and non-GMO eggs.

 Source: WATTAgNet - Egg Industry | February 2019

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