Shocked at Egg Prices? It’s Not Just Inflation.

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Inflation has been front of mind for everyone for several months now. Groceries, every day essentials, and even makeup products have increased in price, even in the past 3 months. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report in December 2022, the consumer price index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs had increased 7.7% since December 2021. While shocking, this increase is small in comparison to that of cereals and bakery products (16.1%) and dairy and related products (15.3%).

The United States Department of Agriculture reported an average price for a dozen large eggs in North Carolina to be about $4.89, although the top of the range is $5.97. Although inflation has certainly impacted this price, there is also an underlying factor contributing to this increase. When comparing USDA data from 2022 to 2021, it appears that nearly 10 million dozen eggs less were produced monthly in 2022 than 2021.

Line graph showing relationship between egg inventories and prices. USDA

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was detected in domestic poultry in early 2022. As the name suggests, the disease is highly infectious, and sent shockwaves through the poultry industry. Infected flocks were depopulated to prevent spread of disease, which led to decreased egg production. When combined with a slightly increased demand for eggs by consumers, this dip in production caused prices to surge. Unfortunately, consumers are now feeling the impact of HPAI at the grocery store. Much like COVID-19, HPAI is here to stay, and the industry is adapting to this change. Consumers will likely feel relief as egg production returns to pre-HPAI levels.

Do egg prices have you considering starting a backyard flock? Review this graphic for basic considerations.

Want to crunch some numbers, and see if getting hens pencils out? Check out this budget worksheet courtesy of N.C. Cooperative Extension, Forsyth County Center and NC Farm School. 

Decided to start a flock? This University of Florida publication provides detailed information on housing, feeds, and more. 

Have questions? Contact our office at 336-593-8179.