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JLeslie's avatar

Do cage free eggs have a much larger proft margin?

Asked by JLeslie (47751 points ) February 11th, 2013

Sometimes cage free eggs are double the price of noncage free eggs in my supermarket. Another example is organic milk can be much more expensive than regular milk. We see it with vegetables also.

It had me wondering, are the producers of these products making much more profit per item? Are they charging much higher prices, because their market will pay it? Or, do they have to charge the higher prices just to be on par with what the mass produced stuff profit margins are per item.

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15 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

It is not a higher profit margin, it is that the cost of finding and harvesting the eggs is higher. Higher costs of processing means a higher price at the market.

WestRiverrat's avatar

You can grow less produce per acre by organic methods than you do with mass production farming. There are also higher costs for natural fertilizer, weed and insect control. So they usually need to charge higher prices to get equal profit margins.

JLeslie's avatar

I know it all costs more to produce, but, I just wonder how many pennies on the dollar they profit compared to the mass farms.

For instance let’s say a dozen eggs costs 80¢ to produce and cage free eggs are $1.20. At market maybe the regular dozen is $1.60, but the free range are $3.20. The regular eggs show a profit of 80¢ and the organic $2 in that scenerio. I realize I am not accounting for price at wholesale, etc, but you get the idea.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie Have you ever seen a caged chicken farm? There are thousands of hens per cheaply constructed (blows away in a wind storm) barn.

Whereas, with free-range birds, there are no cages. Thus, there is the need to hunt for eggs.

Here’s an example of “non” caged chickens raised for fast growth/quick kill.

Here’s a free-range farm mini documentary to help you better understand why there is such a large cost discrepancy.

My argument would be with your premise that somehow the free-range farmers are making a larger profit. With the gov’t subsidies available to the corporate lobbyist farmers, the profits they’re making are slaughtering real farming.

Personally, for all the work that goes into keeping chickens, I think letting the public think $2.00 or less a carton is a fair price is a crime.

Eggs should be local & fresh. Imagine the profit a corporation is making on the eggs at $1.60 a dozen, if they can keep the price that low after shipping the eggs long distances.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover I’m with you. I usually buy cage free. I also buy organic milk and prefer to buy the one that say they treat their cows well. Some fruits and veg I buy organic, not all. I also hate the subsidizing the government does. I don’t mind paying more for animals to be treated humanely, and for less pesticides. But, I am curious to know if we are being taken advantage of as a market segment.

SpatzieLover's avatar

First a note: Cage free, is not cruelty free. Cage free still means the chickens can be in large corporate owned barns. The birds beaks are mutilated. I try to buy local free-range eggs when available. Yes, they cost more that “cage-free”.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that corporations own so many farms, it’s difficult in our country to see their precise profit margins. I did find this wiki listing on the costs to produce various types of eggs for Europe.

Not surprising to me, 12 free-range eggs cost €0.32 more than caged hen eggs, €0.16 more than what we call “cage-free” here in the states.

You’ll find you’re much less likely to feel taken advantage of, if in season you buy as much as you can from your local Farmer’s Market.

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks for pointing out the difference between cage free and free range, I had wondered that at times. I also wish they would have white eggs available from free range farms. That seems impossible to find where I live. I’m more accustomed to the flavor of the white shelled eggs.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

People pay more for organic products because they’re concerned about some of the crap the government allows farmers to use. The good farm managers make very good money this way. I deal with some organic farmers and they make really good money. But they also bust their asses to do it.

rooeytoo's avatar

@JLeslie – I never noticed a difference in taste. Do you think you could tell the difference in a blind taste test?

I always buy free range and I pay 5 to 5.50 per dozen for them. But I buy them from the farm and I can see the chooks running around the fields.

I had a chicken. She roamed freely in the back yard. When it was egg laying time she would rush back to her little house. She slept in a cat carrier with a perch inserted. I thought all chickens would go back to their roost to lay their eggs?

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo The brown eggs actually taste richer to me. In a blind taste test I am not sure to be honest, I would think I would. I don’t mind the taste of the brown, but I prefer the white. However, now I rarely eat a whole egg anyway, cholesterol problems and all that. Maybe that is why I am more sensitive to the flavor? Since I rarely eat whole eggs, just eating any whole egg tastes rich. I will say this also, fresh eggs are amazing. I think they taste different than eggs that have sat around a couple of weeks.

gailcalled's avatar

A few of my neighbors raise a flock of chickens who get to peck and socialize and chat with buyers like me. The charge is $4.00/dozen which is essentially a gift to the purchaser.

My sister raised her own for years; her husband built a magnificent cedar-sided chicken house with climbing roses and heat lamps and special little doors and runways. It was a lot of work, daily, especially in the cold weather. The feed and straw was expensive and the labor unending.

Plus, in spite of having three dogs, my sister was constantly on the alert for the coyotes, foxes and raptors who picked those chickens off, one by one.

The rainbow hues are beautiful; a box can contain eggs colored white, brown, speckled and robins egg blue . They taste the same. The yolk sits very high. If you are ever going to eat an egg, these are the only ones worth it. And you get to personally thank the layer.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Definately brown are richer and better, I think I could tell the difference in a taste test for sure!!

I am lucky to get free brown farm eggs from a co-worker as long as we bring the cartons back to her for recycling. The double-yolks are amazing, as are the clear eggs where the shell hasn’t hardened.

rooeytoo's avatar

I was used to white eggs in USA but here I rarely see a white. I must admit my taste buds are not so acute to notice a difference. But perhaps I am just so used to brown after 15 years here that I have forgotten how white ones taste. What I do notice though is the tremendous difference between store bought cage eggs and truly free range from the source!

Buttonstc's avatar

For anyone interested in buying eggs straight from the farmer, you can find small farms local to you by inputting your zipcode on the website below.

You’d be surprised at what’s likely in your nearby vicinity.

www.localharvest.org

gailcalled's avatar

Yesterday on the road, I bumped into several of the chickens who lay the local fresh eggs; they were on their way to the other side, I guess. I got out of the car and shooed them back to their chicken house. We chatted briefly. They were the size of Leghorns but had brown, white and in one case, speckled feathers.

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