The worst bird flu outbreak in U.S. history has killed nearly 60 million chickens and led to a record increase in egg prices.
When chickens are exposed to the highly contagious avian influenza, farmers have to kill the entire flock to reduce the virus’ spread. That leads to a tight egg supply, which inflates prices — especially during the holiday season when demand is high.
Case in point: the average cost of a dozen, large Grade A eggs in U.S. cities has more than doubled from $1.70 in November of last year to $3.59, according to data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve.
And elevated prices will continue into the new year, according to Brian Earnest, lead economist for animal protein at CoBank.
“This year, we’ve continued to see flock depopulations throughout the entire year, and there’s an expectation that we’ll continue to see it into 2023,” Earnest told CNN, adding that “we’re going to see a tight supply situation and elevated pricing environment moving forward.”
On social media, consumers have responded to the price increases with frustration.
“I feel like I’m going to cry,” a Redditor posted after paying $5.49 for a dozen eggs.
“A few months back, I half jokingly commented that eggs are now rich people food and people on this sub were telling me to stop being dramatic,” another Redditor wrote. “If you buy eggs regularly, eggs going from 79 cents a dozen to $5-$6 is a big deal.”
In the same thread, members of the budget-focused r/Frugal subreddit shared their tips for saving money on eggs, including buying in bulk from Costco and eating beans instead. One seemingly counterintuitive solution: buy organic, free range, or other specialty eggs.
According to the Wall Street Journal, specialty eggs can be about $1 cheaper per dozen because they’re sold to distributors on a fixed-price basis. Cal-Maine Foods, the largest egg producer in the U.S., has seen specialty egg sales rise by 24.1%, while conventional egg sales declined by 2.2% over the same period.
Experts say that it could take months for prices to moderate, though cold weather could prolong the price increases.
With egg prices the way they are, go ahead and cancel the Easter egg hunt this year.— Beer Drinking Army Vet (@thomas_garrard) January 4, 2023