Egg prices are soaring nationwide due to a plethora of recent bird flu cases, according to the Associated Press. Expensive animal feed and higher gas prices have also led the national median cost of eggs to jump from $1.72 at the end of 2021 to $3.59 this past November – an increase of more than double.
Not only are average consumers suffering, but the dilemma is also putting a strain on bakeries, restaurants, and manufacturers that depend on eggs.
“Feed costs have been much higher for a couple of years now. As feed prices went up, profits went down, and the economic response to that is to produce less, so we had been producing slightly fewer egg laying chickens any way, prior to [avian flu] hitting,” David Anderson, professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M, said. “A small change in supply or quantity produced generates a much larger increase in price.”
More than 43 of the 58 million chickens killed over the past year to stave off bird flu were egg-laying chickens. Such large-scale extermination at commercial facilities has decreased the egg supply by an average of about 7.5 percent every month since the outbreak began, according to The New York Times.
As a result of the egg shortage, some stores are now limiting the number of eggs customers can purchase.
Lyndsay Cole, a spokeswoman with the Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, explained that after facilities are sterilized and refilled with healthy hens, it can take around four to five months for the animals to “reach peak productivity” again, laying around 24 eggs a month.
University of Arkansas agricultural economist Jada Thomson has a more positive outlook, predicting that the price of eggs will likely decrease over the next couple months as egg farmers continue to replace the flocks they lost last year.