The recent egg price hikes have been the talk of the town. From December 2021 to December 2022, egg prices rose by a whopping 60% and continue to push even higher. While inflation is partly to blame, the real cause of the spike in egg prices is the ongoing outbreak of avian flu.
Avian influenza, or bird flu, is a highly contagious virus that affects almost 100 species of birds. It is believed that the virus is spread by wild birds migrating to farms and infecting flocks of chickens. In order to contain the spread of the virus, entire flocks have to be slaughtered, leading to a significant decrease in egg supply.
The avian flu has hit the United States hard. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 57.83 million birds have been culled since the start of 2022. This is the deadliest outbreak of avian influenza in history, surpassing the previous record of 50.5 million bird deaths in 2015.
The U.S. egg industry is facing an unprecedented challenge. The avian flu has had a devastating effect on egg production, driving up prices for consumers. Prices for a dozen large brown eggs range from $6 to $10, compared to less than $4 a year ago. This is causing a lot of financial strain for Americans, who must now decide whether to pay the higher prices or go eggless.
Unfortunately, businesses like breakfast spots and bakeries have no choice but to stick with eggs, as they are a key ingredient in many recipes. As a result, they have had to bear the brunt of the price hikes.
While there is no end in sight for the avian flu, prices have begun to ease a bit. Wholesale egg prices in the Midwest have declined to $2.81 a dozen, down nearly 50% from a record high of more than $5 a dozen in December.
Though the price of eggs has gone down slightly, consumers are buying less of them because of the high cost, according to the United States Department of Agriculture on Feb. 3. Price differences between conventional and free-range eggs are so minimal these days that some consumers are opting to spend a little more for what many believe is a higher-quality egg.
In the end, the avian flu outbreak has had a devastating effect on egg production and prices.
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