Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., Jackson, Miss., announced an expansion to the cage-free capacity at its Delta, Utah, facility.

This expansion includes new facilities for 2 million cage-free hens, a processing plant, additional pullet capacity and renovation of existing capacity to cage-free for another 1.4 million hens, with initial capacity expected to come online beginning late 2019 and completion by early 2022. With these additions, the Delta facility will have approximately 3.4 million cage-free hens to help meet the demands of the California market.

Other approved expansion projects include adding pullets and cage-free capacity for 1 million hens in Pittsburg, Texas, and building new cage-free pullet housing in Zephyrhills, Fla.

“We have continued to focus on responsible and efficient management across all of our operations in fiscal 2019,” says Dolph Baker, chairman and CEO. “For the third quarter, our farm production costs per dozen were up 6.9% over the third quarter last year, primarily due to higher feed costs. Our feed costs per dozen were up 6.3%, reflecting higher prices paid for feed ingredients primarily related to less favorable crop conditions in the south central United States, which adversely affected ingredient prices at some of our larger feed mill operations. Also, our organic and other specialty egg production continues to grow, which requires a higher-priced feed formulation. With the record harvest of the U.S. corn and soybean crops in 2018, we have access to a sufficient supply of feed ingredients. However, grain prices have been volatile due to the ongoing uncertainties and geopolitical issues surrounding trade agreements and international tariffs.

“We are pleased with the trends in our business and our ability to execute our growth strategy and respond to both the challenges and opportunities in a dynamic market. We continue to invest in our operations, and we are well positioned to expand our own capacity or consider potential acquisitions to support our future growth. Above all, we are focused on meeting the demands of our valued customers with a favorable product mix, including cage-free and other specialty eggs,” says Baker.