NATIONAL NEWS

Deadly avian flu sends egg prices soaring

Apr 8, 2022, 8:14 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:16 pm
A deadly and highly infectious avian flu is forcing US farmers to kill millions of egg-laying hens,...
A deadly and highly infectious avian flu is forcing US farmers to kill millions of egg-laying hens, reducing the country's egg supply and driving up prices. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images via CNN)
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images via CNN)

(CNN) — A deadly and highly infectious avian flu is forcing US farmers to kill millions of egg-laying hens, reducing the country’s egg supply and driving up prices.

On Thursday, retailers paid between $2.80 and $2.89 for a dozen large grade A white eggs in the Midwest, according to the USDA’s daily Midwest regional egg report. That’s more than double the roughly $1.25 they cost in March, according to data compiled by Brian Earnest, lead protein industry analyst at Cobank, which provides financial services to agribusiness.

Typically, large white eggs in that region cost somewhere between $0.70 and $1.10 per dozen, said Earnest, who noted that the Midwest prices serve as a national benchmark. Around Easter, when demand is high, those prices can reach about $2, he said — far lower than they were on Thursday.

Higher feed costs and supply chain difficulties have made many food items more expensive this year, and eggs are no exception. But this particular spike is being driven by the highly pathogenic avian influenza that has been detected in flocks across the country, Earnest noted. It’s the worst US outbreak of the bird flu since 2015.

Though the flu is deadly for poultry, it is “primarily an animal health issue,” according to the Centers for Disease Control, which added that it believes “the risk to the general public’s health from current H5N1 bird flu viruses is low.”

Because the flu is so contagious and deadly to birds, the USDA protocol is to kill infected flocks to curb the spread of the disease.

In Iowa, the nation’s leading egg producer, “we currently have more than a dozen sites impacted by the disease,” including three facilities where hens lay eggs, said Chloe Carson, communications director of the Iowa Department of Agriculture. As a result “we have had to depopulate 11.2 million laying hens,” out of about 56 million laying hens in Iowa overall, she said.

This particular strain of the flu is being spread by wild migratory birds, Carson explained. The migration season typically lasts from March to May, she noted.

“As long as the migration patterns continue, there is a risk for disease to continue to be introduced to our domestic populations,” Carson said.

Pricier eggs this summer

Although wholesale egg prices are spiking, that doesn’t mean supermarkets are passing those costs onto consumers, explained Earnest.

Retailers will often “take a loss on eggs to draw in store traffic,” he said. Generally, around Easter or Christmas, when people are more likely to bake, “we’ll see a reduced price on-shelf for eggs.”

So rather than raising prices, some stores appear to be dealing with the higher costs by eliminating their egg promotions.

“Retail promotional activity was very limited and offered little incentive for shoppers to buy beyond immediate needs,” according to the USDA’s weekly egg markets overview, published last Friday.

Eventually, however, prices are likely to go up.

“I would expect we’re going to see at least a 30 or 40 percent premium on top of [typical prices] through the summer months this year as a result of the tighter supply,” Earnest said.

He also noted that even before the flu was detected in the US earlier this year, the number of egg-laying hens was relatively low. And frozen or dry egg inventories are “down significantly from what they typically are,” he said. That could mean there will be some egg shortages later this year.


The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints volunteers help clean up and repair the aftermath of Hurricane Ia...
Mike Anderson

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members help clean up the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

"As horrible as natural disasters are, you see the best of humanity," Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members gather in Florida to help clean up the mess Hurricane Ian left behind.
1 day ago
(Getty Images)...
Claire Colbert and Amanda Musa, CNN

Texas girl who shot her father and then herself has died, authorities say

A 12-year-old Texas girl accused of shooting her father and then herself as a part of a murder plot with another child died two days following the incident.
1 day ago
FILE PHOTO - (Deseret News)...
Associated Press

Hundreds of cars pack Nevada streets for illegal stunts

Police in northern Nevada say thousands of people in hundreds of cars took over parking lots and intersections Friday night.
1 day ago
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC...
FARNOUSH AMIRI, Associated Press

Archives: Records from Trump WH staffers remain missing

The National Archives has informed congressional lawmakers that a number of electronic communications from Trump White House staffers remain missing.
1 day ago
Jimmy Carter, the oldest living former US president, pictured here, in Plains, Georgia, on April 28...
CNN

Former President Jimmy Carter celebrates his 98th birthday

Jimmy Carter, the oldest living former US president, turns 98 on Saturday.
1 day ago
President Joe Biden announced the return of seven Americans he said were wrongfully detained in Ven...
Betsy Klein, Arlette Saenz and Jennifer Hansler, CNN

Biden announces return of seven American detainees from Venezuela

President Joe Biden on Saturday announced the return of seven Americans he said were wrongfully detained in Venezuela for "years."
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
Deadly avian flu sends egg prices soaring