The Higher Cost of Eggs May Not Go Down Until Summer

Anne Spollen
The cost of eggs has doubled in the last year.Photo byKatherine ChaseonUnsplash

Chances are, if you have been grocery shopping in the last few months, you have noticed an increase in the cost of food. But there is one item in particular, a staple in most households, that has had a sharp and sudden increase in price: your usual carton of a dozen eggs. In December, 2022, at the height of the baking season, eggs reached an average of $4.25 in the United States. That is more than twice what they cost one year earlier.

There are multiple reasons for the large increase. The first one, inflation, raises the price on all goods. But more specific to eggs and poultry is the outbreak of a highly contagious avian flu, which is specific to fowl.

In 2015, 43 million egg-laying birds died as a result of avian flu. Egg prices increased then as well. More recently, the bird flu affecting egg prices now has killed 58 million turkeys and chickens according to the US Department of Agriculture. Most of the birds that have died have been egg-laying hens, causing fewer eggs to be available and resulting in the sharp price increase.
USDA Graph representing the relationship between egg inventory and prices.Photo byUSDA

Bird flu is caused by a Type A virus that rarely spreads to human; however, there are more than twelve strains of bird flu. The current strain striking the US is Eurasian H5N1. It is considered highly pathogenic. It rapidly spreads within a flock, affecting the animals' gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts.

In some states, consumers are finding shelves empty of eggs. Certain stores, such as Whole Foods, Lidl, Kroger and Fred Meyer have begun limiting how many cartons customers can purchase.

When will consumers see the prices drop? In its newest report, the USDA says, "Recent record high egg prices have begun to soften but it will take some before this is reflected at the dairy case."

Metro reporter with the Los Angeles Times, Sonja Sharp, explained on CBS News Moneywatch that prices probably won't return to historic norms until the outbreaks have passed and baby chicks can reach egg-laying age -- perhaps into the summer. "We don't get mature hens overnight," Sharp added. 

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New York City writer interested in urban concerns, lifestyle topics, human interest, all areas of wellness, and social issues. Published novelist and essayist.

Staten Island, NY

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