Have you noticed the astronomical price of eggs at the grocery store in 2022 and the start of 2023? Eggs saw the highest increase in the cost of any item on your grocery list last year. So, what’s causing this massive price increase? According to the research firm Urner Barry, the wholesale price of Midwest large eggs skyrocketed to $5.46 per dozen in December 2022. The price dropped to $3.77 a dozen later in the year, giving consumers some price relief. What’s causing egg prices to skyrocket? Let’s explore!
Why are Egg Prices so High?
In retrospect, the price of a dozen eggs was just $1.30 a dozen in mid-January 2022. Some retailers state demand drops in January after the surge from holiday baking, dropping the price. However, according to experts, prices will stay elevated until February or March 2023, when we expect to see some lower prices. The good news is that farmers expect new flocks of laying hens to introduce more supply around this time. However, retailers will keep prices elevated well into 2023 until egg production can catch up.
Egg Prices: What’s Going On?
At the beginning of 2022, we saw a massive avian flu outbreak. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, the highly pathogenic virus caused the death of around 60 million birds which is approximately 10 million more than the last outbreak of the disease in 2015.
USDA data also shows egg inventories in the United States were 29% lower in the last week of 2022 compared to the year prior. 2022 also saw more than 43 million egg-laying hens perish under the virus. The USDA went on to say there were lower-than-average egg inventories by the end of 2022 and increased demand for the holiday baking season, placing pricing pressure on the market.
Egg prices also increased due to food price inflation as the CPI reading shot to highs not seen since the 1970s. The rising logistics and labor costs added fuel to the fire, increasing production costs and the prices consumers paid at the grocery store.
With inflation slowing in late 2022 and early 2023, we can expect this driving force of egg prices to begin to slowly diminish.
Why Do We Have to Worry About Bird Flu Outbreaks?
Officials in the agriculture industry attributed the rapid spread of bird flu across the United States in 2022 to wild migratory birds bringing it into production facilities across the country. After producers identify an infection, they’ll cull entire flocks to prevent the further spread of the virus.
The 2015 outbreak ended in June of the same year. However, 2022 saw cases continue to appear across parts of the country throughout the fall and winter. As a result of the ongoing problem, poultry processors introduced biosecurity measures and precautions to mitigate the spread between poultry farms.
However, the bird flu virus spreads readily, and it’s as simple as a worker stepping on infected fecal matter and dragging the pathogen into a commercial barn.
Egg Shortages in the United States
In 2022 we saw some areas of the United States experience egg shortages. However, Farmers expect new flocks to boost supply, solving this problem in 2023. The American Egg Board said shortages were rare, and the largest egg producers were able to recover faster than in 2015, bouncing back in three months after experiencing an outbreak.
Previously, the egg industry could take six to nine months to recover. Some regional grocery chains stated they’re dealing with sporadic shortages. Organic and specialty eggs, sold to distributors and retailers on a fixed-price basis, have been cheaper than conventional egg varieties recently.
Organic eggs are harder to find because retailers seek to stock more. As a result, we can expect price hikes for organic eggs in the first quarter of 2022.
Additional Information: NDA REPORTS ADDITIONAL CASE OF HPAI IN NEBRASKA
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