We are the largest producer and marketer of shell eggs in the United States. In fiscal 2014, we sold approximately 1.014 million dozen shell eggs, which represented approximately 23% of domestic shell egg consumption.
Our total flock of approximately 32.4 million layers and 8.5 million pullets and breeders is the largest in the U.S. Layers are mature female chickens, pullets are young female chickens usually under 20 weeks of age, and breeders are male or female chickens used to produce fertile eggs to be hatched for egg production flocks.
We operate in a single segment. Our primary business is the production, grading, packaging, marketing and distribution of shell eggs. We sell most of our shell eggs in the southwestern, southeastern, mid-western and mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S. We market our shell eggs through our extensive distribution network to a diverse group of customers, including national and regional grocery store chains, club stores, foodservice distributors and egg product consumers. Some of our sales are completed through co-pack agreements – a common practice in the industry whereby production and processing of certain products is outsourced to another producer. The strength of our position is evidenced by the fact that we have the largest market share in the grocery segment for shell eggs, and we sell shell eggs to a majority of the largest food retailers in the U.S.
We are one of the largest producers and marketers of value-added specialty shell eggs in the U.S. Specialty shell eggs include nutritionally enhanced, cage free, organic and brown eggs and have been a significant segment of the market in recent years. In fiscal 2014, specialty shell eggs and co-pack specialty shell eggs represented approximately 24% and 4% of our shell egg dollar sales, respectively, and accounted for approximately 17% and 3%, respectively, of our total shell egg dozen volumes. In fiscal 2013, specialty shell eggs and co-pack specialty shell eggs represented approximately 24% and 3% of our shell egg dollar sales, respectively, and accounted for approximately 16% and 2%, respectively, of our total shell egg dozen volumes. Retail prices for specialty eggs are less cyclical than non-specialty shell egg prices and are generally higher due to consumer willingness to pay for the increased benefits from those products. We market our specialty shell eggs under the following brands: Egg-Land’s Best®, Land O’ Lakes®, Farmhouse®, and 4-Grain®. We are a member of the Egg-Land’s Best, Inc. (“EB”) cooperative and produce, market and distribute Egg-Land’s Best® and Land O’ Lakes® branded eggs under exclusive license agreements for major metropolitan areas, including New York City, and a number of states in the southeast and south central U.S. We market cage free eggs under our trademarked Farmhouse® brand and distribute them across the southeast and southwest regions of the U.S. We market organic, all natural, cage-free, vegetarian, and omega-3 eggs under our 4-Grain® brand. We also produce, market, and distribute private label specialty shell eggs to several customers.
We are a leader in industry consolidation. Since 1989, we have completed eighteen acquisitions ranging in size from 600,000 layers to 7.5 million layers. Despite a market that has been characterized by increasing consolidation, the shell egg production industry remains highly fragmented. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 52 producers, owning at least one million layers, own approximately 88% of total industry layers and the ten largest producers own approximately 48% of total industry layers. We believe industry consolidation will continue and we plan to capitalize on opportunities as they arise.