Egg prices are going up significantly as the highest inflation in four decades and supply chain problems combine with higher seasonal demand spurred by Easter, worries about a bird flu outbreak and the impacts of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The price of a dozen eggs is up more than 25% compared to a year ago, according to analysis of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) data from Texas A & M University economists. Egg prices are up 59% from pre-pandemic levels, according to the Food Institute.
Egg prices were $ 1.60 for a dozen a year ago. They average more than $ 2 per dozen nationally or more according to USDA data. Prices continue to rise with egg prices north of $ 2.50 and for some varieties $ 5 or more at some more expensive grocers.
Higher egg prices are part of the current inflationary wave that have seen food prices increase 7.9% from February 2021 to February 2022, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is the biggest increase since 1981.
Higher demand because of Easter and the Christian holiday’s egg coloring traditions are also putting upward seasonal pressures on prices along with higher costs of feed for chicken farms. High gasoline and diesel fuel prices are also adding to costs.
Seasonal items, including for holidays, have also been suffering with supply chain challenges. There could more challenges with persistent labor shortages up and down the supply chain and a fresh wave of port and production closures in China due to new increases in COVID-19 cases ..
“Egg prices are set by the commodity market based on supply and demand, and farmers don’t usually get to set the price of their eggs. Like many industries, egg farming is experiencing supply chain challenges related to increases in costs and availability of feed Minimizing disruption in the egg supply while maximizing availability and affordability of eggs during this time is the priority, “said Marc Dresner, director of integrated communications for the American Egg Board.
There are also concerns about a new strain of avian influenza hitting US chicken and turkey farms, said Victor Claar, an economist at Florida Gulf Coast University.
A bird flu that was found in February and March in Wyoming, Ohio, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Maryland, Wisconsin is moving to other states, according to the USDA. Flocks totaling a combined 5.4 million chickens in Wisconsin, Delaware and Iowa are among the largest avian flu outbreaks in the US
Claar said the last time a major bird flu impacted chicken and egg prices was in 2015. That resulted in the culling of an estimated 50 million chickens and turkeys across the US
“I think prices doubled,” said Claar, referring to a spike that took egg prices to close to $ 3 for a dozen. Current prices are moving toward record highs. There was also a spike in egg prices during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020.
But the state agriculture department notes a bald eagle was found dead from a avian flu earlier this month in British Columbia. It is the first bird flu death in the Pacific Flyway since 2015.
“The best protection for birds are owners who practice effective biosecurity,” said State Veterinarian Ryan Scholz with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. “We must be vigilant and strict with our biosecurity practices especially for backyard flocks, as well as educated on when and how to report potential avian influenza deaths. Our preparation could reduce the risk of infection among poultry and prevent or limit the impact of HPAI introduction in Oregon. ”
In Oregon, the agriculture and food sectors account for more than 313,000 jobs and wages of more than $ 11.6 billion. Severe droughts, the impacts of the pandemic, supply chain troubles and inflation are also impacting farmers, food supply chains and consumers.
The war in Ukraine and US and NATO sanctions on Russia over the invasion are also putting even more upward pressures on some food and agriculture costs. Russia and Belarus (which also faces US sanctions for supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine) produce much of the world’s fertilizers.
Ukraine and Russia produce close to 30% of all the world’s exports of wheat, 17% of corn exports and 76% of sunflower oil supplies, according to Gro Intelligence, a New York-based environmental and ecology research and software firm.
David Anderson, an agricultural economist with Texas A & M said the costs of chicken feeds are also up and that is contributing to higher egg and poultry prices at the supermarket.
“In the short term, the trend is upward, and the price of production is higher, so we can expect higher prices. But if the outbreaks become a major problem, we could see prices really climb,” he said. this happened, it did worsen through the spring before it got better, so this could impact us beyond eggs and cause issues with turkeys this coming fall. ”
Inflationary concerns are also impacting consumer’s Easter plans and celebrating the religious holiday.
American consumers are also adjusting some of their Easter spending with persistent inflation hitting their pocketbooks.
The National Retail Federation projects consumers will spend $ 169.79 on the Christian holiday. Eighty percent of Americans will celebrate Easter and are projected to spend $ 20.8 billion this year — down from $ 21.6 billion in 2019.
The retail group also said 42% of consumers will comparison shop for Easter items if the price is consider too high. Another 31% of consumers will choose a different brand or color because of higher costs, according to NRF.