Production and feed costs have hit quarterly profits at US egg producer Cal-Maine Foods.

Cal-Maine said net earnings were down 6.4% to US$9.4m in the 13 weeks to 31 August, the group reported today (30 September). Operating profit was also down 28.8% to $11.1m, primarily due to higher production costs during the quarter and high feed and grain costs.

Net sales, however, were up 17% to $319.5m. Cal-Maine said specialty eggs continued to gain in popularity with consumers and accounted for 16.2% of dozens sold and 24.6% of total shell egg sales for the first quarter.

“Our operations have run well this summer, however, our overall production costs were higher during the first quarter than a year ago,” said CEO Dolph Baker. “Market prices for grain have remained high through the first quarter and our feed costs were up 3.4 cents per dozen, or 6.7 percent, compared with the same period last year. However, we are encouraged by the favorable growing conditions this summer, which have improved the yield of this year’s corn and soybean crops.”

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