Even though chickens can’t fly very far, egg prices are skyrocketing.
The price of eggs in the United States has more than doubled over the past year due to a persistent avian flu outbreak and rising feed, fuel, and labor costs, and this has caused some sticker shock in the grocery store aisles.
According to the most recent government statistics, the national average price for a dozen eggs rose to $3.59 in November from $1.72 a year earlier.
The financial health of restaurants, bakeries, and other food manufacturers who rely largely on eggs is being affected, as well as consumer budgets.
Although the overall rate of price rises slowed slightly over the fall as gas prices declined, the 12% spike in grocery costs in November is pushing inflation up.
But because egg farmers were hurt harder by the bird flu, egg prices are up much more than other items, even more than chicken or turkey.
Egg-laying chickens made up more than 43 million of the 58 million birds killed in the past year to contain the virus, including some farms with more than a million birds each in important egg-producing states like Iowa.
Every person who approaches the egg display at an Omaha Hy-Vee supermarket “has a grumpy expression,” according to customer Nancy Stom.
Nevertheless, despite the price hikes, eggs continue to be more affordable than other proteins like chicken or beef, with a pound of chicken breasts costing, on average, $4.42 in November and a pound of ground beef costing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $4.85.
It’s still a cheap supper, according to Stom. However, the 70-year-old claimed that given the cost, she would keep a closer eye on her eggs in the refrigerator and work to prevent them from spoiling before being consumed.
Kelly Fischer said she would consider constructing a backyard chicken coop in Chicago if prices continue to be this high because every family member consumes eggs.
The 46-year-old public school teacher was shopping at HarvesTime Foods on the city’s North Side when she added, “We (with neighbors) are discussing putting a chicken coop behind our houses, so someday I hope not to buy them and have my eggs, and I suppose the cost enters into it somewhat.”
“The environmental impact and attempting to buy locally are more important to me.”
Even finding eggs on the shelves might be challenging in some areas. However, the total flock is only down about 5% from its average number of roughly 320 million chickens, so overall, egg supplies are holding up.
Farmers have been striving to replace their flocks as quickly as possible after the outbreak.