When will egg prices finally drop?

A few months ago, i Vox readers asked What bothered them the most was the price hike amid our current high economic environment inflation. The most common answer, far and away, was egg – a relatively small, but essential item, the high price of which was annoying to many consumers. That was in August 2022. Now, the egg price situation is even worse.

According to data provided by Urner Barry, which tracks the food commodities market, the average price for a dozen “Great Midwest” eggs was $5.46 as of late December 2022, much higher than the $0.89 it was at the beginning of 2020, before The pandemic hit, and even above other highs in the low $3 range last summer. After the peak demand for eggs that comes with the holiday season, prices have begun to ease, back to $3.64 as of Jan. 17.

“There is almost a steady drop in demand after the holiday baking period, which in turn leads to lower wholesale prices,” Karen Rispoli, who covers the egg market for Urner Barry, said in an email. “This year’s pullback has been fairly sharp despite the highs from which the market is adjusting.”

However, the egg prices many people see in the grocery store are eye-catching. And in some parts of the country, like California, it’s white The extra price In some cases, Hard to reach.

Whites have been part of the inflation story in the US economy for months. In addition to the cost of one egg at the store, you also need to remember that eggs are an ingredient in many items, from pet food to baked goods and more. So when the cost of eggs goes up, it can stress out a lot of things.

So what is happening now? Here is a little rundown.

Bird flu is bad

Mainly eggs are very expensive now because The chicken gets sick of highly deadly avian influenza, which is spread largely by migratory wild birds. The last time bird flu hit hard, in 2015, is This led to an increase in the price of eggs. Now, it’s happening again, and it’s proving even more consistent than last time.

In 2015, the virus kind of stopped once the weather got hot and spring migration ended, and resettlement was fully able to begin. [In 2022]”It’s back in the fall with the winter migration,” said Brian Moscogiuri, global trade strategist at Eggs Unlimited.

As of early December, it was there About 308 million “hens,” that is, hens that lay eggs for consumption, are in the United States. This dropped from 328 million last year. “Usually you need about one bird per person to get supply and demand close to equilibrium with US consumption,” Moscogiuri said. “So we have, 331 million people in this country? You can see there is a huge deficit.”

like Vox’s Kenny Torella explainedThere are approximately 58 million birds in the United States, most of them laying hens. died from Avian influenza over the past year, much higher than previous record From 50 million from 2015. Once a farm or facility is infected with the virus, the virus spreads like wildfire and is almost always fatal. Regardless, US regulations require farmers to vacate their operations as soon as bird flu is detected, which means birds with or without the virus must be killed.

They have to clean and sanitize the entire facility, and then they have to take the test [the facility] in order to re-populate [to make sure the virus is cleared]Moscogeore said. Egg producers have gotten better at rehoming, having learned from the experience in 2015, but as mentioned, the current outbreak is more persistent than the past.

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