This Is Where Most Of Your Eggs Come From

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? That philosophical question has stumped thinkers for centuries. However, what we can tell you is where the majority of the eggs produced in the U.S. are actually coming from. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the top egg-producing state is Iowa, coming in first place with 15% of the U.S. domestic egg crop. According to Statista, the state has over 40 million egg-laying hens.

Ohio and Indiana are both tied for second place in egg production, producing 9% of all domestic eggs. Ohio has some 39 million hens, while Indiana makes do with just 36 million hard-working hens. Rounding out the top 10 states with the most egg-laying hens are, in order, Pennsylvania, Texas, Georgia, Michigan, Arkansas, North Carolina, and California. 

Of that list, Georgia, Arkansas, and North Carolina also happen to be among the top five states for producing broiler chickens, according to the National Chicken Council. So whether it be eggs or poultry, chickens are a major industry in those three states. But when it comes to the United States at large, the country also looks abroad for its eggs.

The U.S. exports -- and imports -- a large number of eggs

So productive are our American hens that the United States is able to export nearly $600 million worth of eggs each year, making us the world's second-largest egg exporter, according to OCE. (The Netherlands takes first place, in case you were wondering.) We're sending our surplus eggs primarily to Mexico and Canada, as might be expected since they're our nearest neighbors, but we also ship eggs to Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, South Korea, and Hong Kong.

Interestingly enough, while the United States is exporting all of these eggs out of the country, it's also importing over $78 million worth of eggs per year. The top country we get our eggs from turns out to be... Canada. We're sending them our eggs. They're sending us theirs -– what, are people just standing there on the northern border, tossing eggs back and forth? 

The U.S. also imports a large number of eggs from the U.K., the Netherlands, Turkey, China, and France. As to why we would both import and export the same commodity, well, different factors like transportation costs, fluctuating supplies, and the commerce of two-way trade likely play a role. So next time you fix an omelet, know you're eggs likely came from Iowa but could have also come from Canada.