We are the largest producer and marketer of shell eggs in the United States. In fiscal 2017, we sold approximately 1,053.6 million dozen shell eggs, which we believe represented approximately 23% of domestic shell egg consumption. Our total flock of approximately 40 million layers and 9.4 million pullets and breeders is the largest in the U.S. Layers are mature female chickens, pullets are young female chickens usually under 18 weeks of age, and breeders are male and female chickens used to produce fertile eggs to be hatched for egg production flocks.
We operate in a single segment, which is the production, grading, packaging, marketing and distribution of shell eggs. The majority of our customers rely on us to provide most of their shell egg needs, including specialty and non-specialty eggs. Specialty eggs represent a broad range of products. We classify nutritionally enhanced, cage free, organic and brown eggs as specialty products for accounting and reporting purposes. We classify all other shell eggs as non-specialty products. While we report separate sales information for these types of eggs, there are a number of cost factors which are not specifically available for non-specialty or specialty eggs due to the nature of egg production. We manage our operations and allocate resources to these types of eggs on a consolidated basis based on the demands of our customers. 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 having the largest market share in the grocery segment for shell eggs. 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. For accounting and tax purposes, we classify nutritionally enhanced, cage-free, organic and brown eggs as specialty shell eggs. They have been a significant and growing segment of the market in recent years. During our fiscal 2016 an increasing number of food service customers, large restaurant chains, and major retailers, including our largest customers, have committed to exclusive offerings of cage-free eggs by specified future dates. We are working with our customers to ensure a smooth transition in meeting their goals, and have been making and expect to continue to make significant investments in new and remodeled facilities to meet this demand. In fiscal 2016, specialty shell eggs and co-pack specialty shell eggs represented 29.1% and 2.7% of our shell egg sales dollars, respectively, and accounted for approximately 22.9% and 2.0%, respectively, of our total shell egg volumes. In fiscal 2015, specialty shell eggs and co-pack specialty shell eggs represented 27.2% and 2.8% of our shell egg sales dollars, respectively, and accounted for approximately 19.8% and 2.0%, respectively, of our total shell egg volumes. 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 perceived 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, along with our associated joint ventures, under exclusive license agreements for a number of states in the southeast, south central, and southwest U.S. as well as the New York City area. 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, wholesome, 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. At December 31, 2015, 56 producers, owning at least one million layers, owned approximately 96% of total industry layers and the ten largest producers owned approximately 50% of total industry layers. We believe industry consolidation will continue and we plan to capitalize on opportunities as they arise.