If you go to any grocery store you have seen that the price of a dozen eggs has skyrocketed. There are reasons for the increase and what the price of eggs may do in the months to come.
Why are egg prices so high? And when will they come down?
The price of a dozen eggs has skyrocketed as avian influenza and inflation continue to impact the supply chain.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price for a dozen eggs is $4.25, nearly triple the typical price from the last five years. Austin Harthoorn, economist with Nebraska Farm Bureau, says in some locations you can pay upwards of $6.00 for a dozen and $8.00 for package of 18 eggs.
“The price hike can be attributed to a number of factors, one of those being avian influenza, which has diminished the bird population across the country,” Harthoorn said. “Wild birds and ‘backyard’ poultry flocks have been affected in nearly every state, and large commercial producers in 28 states have lost a large number of birds”.
Since the onset of the outbreak, 58 million birds have been culled from production across the country. In Nebraska, two large commercial egg producers reported infections in their flocks in April 2022. Between the two operations, nearly 4 million birds were depopulated, roughly half Nebraska’s egg laying population. Egg production in the state responded with only 109 million eggs reported in June 2022 compared to 213 million just three months earlier. Then, while the laying population and egg production in the state began to recover, another farm with 1.7 million egg layers was exposed to the virus around Thanksgiving. As avian flu is highly contagious and has a mortality rate of up to 100 percent, all affected birds are euthanized, and this has caused a lack of egg inventory locally and nationally.
“This round of avian flu has been a real shock to the system. The disease is widespread and affecting a large slice of the population, and the impacts are visible across the supply chain,” Harthoorn said.
The avian flu and the supply squeeze aren’t the only things contributing to higher egg prices. Higher fuel, feed, and other farmer costs are also driving up wholesale prices. And then there’s that high demand for eggs, which spikes during the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving through New Year.
“Year-round demand for eggs has also been strong. Shoppers have been feeling the squeeze of inflation, accepting high prices at the grocery store as they pull back on restaurant visits. And even as eggs have gotten more expensive, they’ve remained a relatively affordable protein,” Harthoorn said.
The peak holiday demand is passing, and wholesale prices are expected to fall.
“The high prices and purchase cycle should ward off some demand, although it may take a few more months for the price decreases to translate in retail. In the longer term, avian flu continues to rage on, and feed and other production costs remain high. There’s little stability in the egg market, and until conditions settle down, consumers may have to accept higher egg prices than what we’ve seen in the recent past,” Harthoorn said.