US egg prices have more than doubled to the national average of $3.59
Soaring egg prices are causing a stir at grocery store checkouts across the country.
The national median price for a dozen eggs hit $3.59 in November, up from $1.72 a year earlier, the latest government data shows. Since then, prices have likely gone up even further.
An ongoing outbreak of bird flu, combined with rising feed, fuel and labor costs, has helped egg prices more than double and has caused plenty of sticker shock among consumers.
The staggering prices for the staple are straining family budgets and the bottom lines of restaurants, bakeries and other food manufacturers that rely heavily on eggs.
Amid widespread inflation, overall food prices rose 12 percent in November, although the overall pace of price increases slowed slightly in the fall as gas prices softened.
The national median price for a dozen eggs hit $3.59 in November, up from $1.72 a year earlier, the latest government data shows
A shopper checks eggs before shopping at a grocery store in Glenview, Illinois on Tuesday. If you want to buy a dozen eggs these days, you have to reckon with rising prices
But egg prices have risen significantly more than other foods — even more than chicken or turkey — because bird flu has hit egg farmers harder.
More than 43 million of the 58 million birds slaughtered last year to fight the virus were egg-laying chickens, including some farms with more than a million birds each in big egg-producing states like Iowa.
Everyone who approaches the egg crate at a Hy-Vee grocery store in Omaha “has a sour face,” said shopper Nancy Stom.
But despite cost increases, eggs remain relatively cheap compared to other proteins like chicken or beef, with a pound of chicken breast averaging $4.42 in November and a pound of ground beef averaging $4.85, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“It’s still an inexpensive meal,” Stom said. But the 70-year-old said that at these prices, she would watch her eggs more closely in the fridge and try not to let them spoil before they get used to it.
If prices stay this high, Kelly Fischer said she’ll start thinking more seriously about building a backyard chicken coop in Chicago because everyone in her family eats eggs.
Red Star chickens feed in their coop at Historic Wagner Farm in Glenview, Illinois on Tuesday. More than 43 million laying hens were slaughtered last year to contain bird flu
A grocery store in Cheverly, Maryland put up a sign Tuesday to apologize for the increased price of its eggs
“We (with neighbors) are thinking about building a chicken coop behind our houses so I’m hoping at some point not to buy them and have my own eggs and I think cost is a factor,” said the 46-year-old Public school teachers shopping at HarvesTime Foods on the north side of town. “For me, it’s more about the impact on the environment and trying to shop locally.”
In some places it can even be difficult to find eggs on the shelves. But overall egg stocks are holding up because the overall flock has declined only about 5% from its normal size of about 320 million hens. Farmers have been working to replace their herds as quickly as possible following an outbreak.
Jakob Werner, 18, said he tries to find the cheapest eggs he can because he eats five or six of them a day while trying to gain weight and build muscle.
“For a while I just stopped eating eggs because they got more expensive. But since they’re my favorite food, I ended up going back to them,” said Werner, who lives in Chicago. “I think I just stopped eating eggs for a few months and waited for the price to go down. It never did. So I will buy again now.”
Purdue University agricultural economist Jayson Lusk said he believes the bird flu outbreak is the biggest driver of price hikes. Unlike previous years, the virus persisted throughout the summer and saw a resurgence in infection of egg and poultry farms last fall.
“Avian flu isn’t the only factor, but I think it’s the main reason for what we’re seeing right now,” Lusk said.
An out of stock egg sign is seen at a grocery store in Glenview, Illinois
Egg cartons will be on display at HarvesTime Foods in Chicago on January 5th
But American Egg Board trade group president and CEO Emily Metz said she believes any cost hikes farmers have faced over the past year were a bigger factor in price increases than bird flu.
“If you look at fuel costs, feed costs go up by up to 60%, labor costs, packaging costs — all of that…these are much, much bigger factors than bird flu for sure,” Metz said.
Jada Thomson, an agricultural economist at the University of Arkansas, said there could be some easing in egg prices over the next few months as egg farmers have steadily replaced flocks lost to bird flu last year and demand is now set to ease somewhat , as people are getting done with their holiday baking.
But she said bird flu remains a wild card that could still send prices skyrocketing if egg farms have major outbreaks.
Farmers are doing everything they can to limit the spread, but the disease is easily transmitted by migrating wild birds and the virus can be picked up on clothing or vehicles.
“But there are some things that are out of our control,” Thompson said. “Sometimes you can’t control nature.”
A shopper checks eggs before shopping at a grocery store in Glenview, Illinois on Tuesday
Food producers and restaurants are suffering because it’s difficult to find good substitutes for eggs in their recipes.
Any drop in egg prices would be welcome at Patti Stobaugh’s two restaurants and two bakeries in Conway and Russelville, Arkansas, since all of their ingredients and supplies are more expensive these days.
For some of her baked goods, Stobaugh has switched to a frozen egg product, which isn’t quite as expensive, but she still buys eggs for all the breakfasts she serves.
A box of 15 dozen eggs has gone from $36 to $86 in the last year, but flour, butter, chicken, and anything else she buys are more expensive, too. Stobaugh said it made her “alert over every little object.”
It’s already increased its prices by 8 percent over the past year, and it may have to increase them again soon.
It’s a delicate balance between trying not to make it too expensive for people to eat out and hurting sales, but she doesn’t have much choice as she tries to provide for her 175 employees.
“We have many employees who work for us and we are responsible for the weekly payroll and supporting their families. We take that very seriously. But it was certainly tough,” Stobaugh said.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11623981/US-egg-prices-double-national-average-3-59.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 US egg prices have more than doubled to the national average of $3.59