The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for eggs packaged for sale at supermarkets. In response, USDA is allowing companies to reallocate their current inventory of table eggs from foodservice warehouses to retail distribution to support the surge in consumer demand.
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Further, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has waved a provision that prohibits official grading for eggs older than 21 days from the date of lay, or those that have previously shipped for sale. The new guidelines allow a temporary extension of the age restriction for eggs bearing USDA grade to 30 days and will help meet consumer demand by allowing eggs recently shipped to foodservice to be returned to the origin farms for retail distribution.
“Bringing eggs from the restaurant and hospitality side of the egg markets, where they are currently needed less, into the retail sector makes good sense,” says Chad Gregory, president and CEO of the United Egg Producers. “UEP’s farmer members are committed to producing a steady supply of eggs and are partnering with their grocery customers to restock egg cases across the U.S.” Any recently shipped to foodservice may be returned to the origin farms for reprocessing, repackaging, and grading for retail distribution.
Additionally, a temporary policy released April 6, 2020 from FDA allows producers who currently only sell eggs to facilities for further processing (for example, into “egg products”) to sell to the table egg market. The policy is intended to remain in effect only for the duration of the public health emergency related to COVID-19 declared by the Department of Health and Human Services.