CNN

Why eggs have been so expensive this year

Dec 27, 2022, 10:20 AM | Updated: 10:21 am
HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 15: Cartons of eggs are seen for sale in a Kroger grocery store on August 1...
HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 15: Cartons of eggs are seen for sale in a Kroger grocery store on August 15, 2022 in Houston, Texas. Egg prices steadily climb in the U.S. as inflation continues impacting grocery stores nationwide. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Several grocery items have gotten more expensive this year. But nothing comes close to the rise in egg prices.

In the year through November, not adjusted for seasonal swings, egg prices jumped 49%, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Since early this year, a deadly avian flu has been reducing poultry flocks — specifically turkeys and egg-laying hens. That’s one reason for the unrelenting increase in prices. But the situation has been exacerbated by elevated feed and energy costs for producers, in addition to high demand in the supermarket.

Experts think that the peak has passed, but until these conditions improve, expect to pay more for eggs in the grocery store.

Wholesale prices hit a record

Avian flu has been a problem in the US for several months now, but in recent weeks wholesale prices have been hitting records.

As of last week, “prices have been escalating for nine consecutive weeks… setting new record highs on a daily basis since the week of Thanksgiving,” said Karyn Rispoli, editor of the Egg Price Current for Urner Barry, which offers food market data.

On Friday, Midwest large eggs, the benchmark for eggs sold in their shells, hit $5.46 per dozen, Rispoli said, citing Urner Barry’s data. This time last year, Urner Berry’s data shows, that price was around $1.70.

One reason for the increase? Not enough supply.

“There’s simply not been enough production to support the incredibly strong retail demand we’ve seen this year,” Rispoli said. Supply has been constrained by the deadly bird flu.

The current outbreak of Highly-Pathogenic Avian Influenza started in the US around February, and has persisted throughout the year. The last major bird flu outbreak in the United States was in 2015. But that one was contained by June of that year, noted Brian Earnest, lead economist for animal protein in CoBank.

“This year, we’ve continued to see flock depopulations throughout the entire year, and there’s an expectation that we’ll continue to see it into 2023,” he said, noting that he expects “we’re going to see a tight supply situation and elevated pricing environment moving forward.”

About 60 million birds are gone because of the disease so far, according to the USDA. Of those, about 43 million are egg-laying hens, according to USDA data provided by the American Egg Board, a farmer-funded group which markets eggs.

Still, farmers have been able to moderate the losses. “Our producers learned a lot of hard lessons from 2015,” said Emily Metz, CEO of the American Egg Board. Some farmers have been able to repopulate their flocks, decreasing the net impact on flock sizes and egg supplies. As of early December, there were about 308 million hens laying eggs for consumption, down from about 328 million in December 2021, according to the USDA.

The supply squeeze isn’t the only thing contributing to higher egg prices, said Metz. Higher fuel, feed and other producer cost are also driving up wholesale prices, she said. And then there’s that high demand for eggs, which spikes this time of year.

Egg demand remains high

People buy more eggs around the holidays, when they’re baking and cooking more, and eating breakfast at home more often.

Wholesale prices tend to go up in the winter because of those habits, noted Earnest. That has “brought about a very strong market condition.”

Year-round demand for eggs has also also been strong.

Even while prices have soared, sales of eggs have only ticked down about 2% by unit in retail in the year through December 4th, according to data from IRI, a market research firm.

Shoppers have been accepting high prices at the grocery store as they pull back on restaurant visits. And even though eggs have gotten more expensive, they still cost less than other proteins.

As that peak holiday demand passes, wholesale prices are expected to fall.

“Based on current trade values and market conditions, it appears that the market may have finally reached its peak,” said Rispoli. Friday’s wholesale prices were the same as Thursday’s, the first time pricing held steady since October, she said.

“Several suppliers have reported to us… that they are seeing their orders slow,” in the week leading up to Christmas, she added. By then, “most grocers have pulled in whatever inventory they’ll need for the holidays.”

It might take another three to six months for prices to moderate in retail, said KK Davey, president of thought leadership at IRI and NPD, and even longer for prices to come down to what they were last year.

“It may take some more time,” he said.


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

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

CNN

A view of a destroyed building is pictured here after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake jolts Turkey's Kah...
Rhea Mogul, Gul Tuysuz, Isil Sariyuce, Kareem El Damanhoury and Rob Picheta, CNN

More than 2,300 dead as powerful quake hits southern Turkey and Syria

More than 1,500 people have died and rescuers are racing to pull survivors from beneath the rubble after a devastating earthquake ripped through Turkey and Syria.
9 hours ago
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 05: First Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden speaks onstag...
Lisa Respers France

Grammy winners 2023: See who won

Harry Styles won album of the year at the Grammy Awards, taking home the top honor on a night that Beyoncé dominated and became the ceremony’s most decorated artist.
1 day ago
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 05: Beyoncé accepts Best Dance/Electronic Music Album for “Re...
Scottie Andrew

Beyoncé officially has the most Grammys of any artist

Bey just became the most awarded artist in Grammys history, with a record 32 wins.
1 day ago
A view of a destroyed building is pictured here after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake jolts Turkey's Kah...
Rhea Mogul, Gul Tuysuz and Isil Sariyuce

At least 118 dead as 7.8-magnitude earthquake hits southern Turkey

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook central Turkey early Monday and was followed by a strong aftershock.
1 day ago
This photo purports to show the suspected Chinese balloon flying over Mills River, North Carolina, ...
Heather Chen and Wayne Chang

China says it ‘reserves the right’ to deal with ‘similar situations’ after US jets shoot down suspected spy balloon

China says it "reserves the right" to deal with "similar situations" following the United States' decision to shoot down its high-altitude balloon.
1 day ago
Five lucky couples who get engaged at a Cracker Barrel restaurant will have the chance to win free ...
Zoe Sottile

Valentine’s Day proposals at Cracker Barrel might win you free food for a year

The restaurant chain has announced a romantic new venture for Valentine's Day. Five lucky couples will have the chance to win free Cracker Barrel for a year, according to its website.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
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: Take this Quiz 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.
Why eggs have been so expensive this year