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Egg prices are up 60% in one year. Here's why.

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Inflation eases, but costs of eggs and other groceries still rise

Inflation eases, but costs of eggs and other groceries still rise


The rising cost of eggs in the US is affecting domestic budgets. In recent years, Americans have increased the number of eggs they consume and reduced their intake of beef and venison, according to US Department of Agriculture data.

Egg consumption has risen in part because more families are eating them as their main protein substitute, Sonja Sharp, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, told CBS News. “We each eat as many eggs as a hen can lay in a year,” she said.

As demand for eggs has increased, production in the US has dropped because of continued avian or “avian” flu epidemic. Nearly 58 million birds were infected with avian flu as of Jan. 6, the USDA said, making it the deadliest outbreak in U.S. history. Infected birds must be culled, causing egg supply to drop and egg prices to rise.

Egg prices in December were up 60% from a year earlier, according to Consumer Price Index data released on Thursday. In US cities, the average price of a dozen large Grade A eggs was $4.25 last month, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

In some states, it can even be difficult to find eggs on shelves. But overall egg supplies are holding up because the total flock of laying hens is down only about 5% from its normal size of around 320 million hens. Farmers have been working to replace their herds as quickly as possible after an outbreak.

Sharp said prices probably won’t drop again until new hens are hatched free of the infection and reach laying age. More than 300 flocks of farm-raised birds were hit by the outbreak last Friday, according to USDA data.

In New York, the owner of a grocer, José Filipe, said that the increase in egg prices has caused many customers to change their consumption habits.

“I’ve seen customers switch from buying organic eggs to more conventional eggs, and specifically half a dozen. Prices have quadrupled in about six or seven months,” he said. recently told Jenna DeAngelis of CBS New York.

What is avian flu?

Avian influenza is transmitted by free-flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese and shorebirds, and infects chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quails, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl. In another major recent outbreak of the disease, it killed more than 50 million chickens and turkeys in 2014 and 2015, causing economic losses of $3.3 billion, the USDA estimates. The agency is now researching a potential avian flu vaccine.

Fortunately, the public health risk related to avian flu remains low, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, cooking all poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165˚F is recommended as a general food safety rule.

The cost of processed eggs – used in liquid or powdered form in manufactured products including salad dressing, cake mixes and snacks – has also risen, adding to inflationary pressures.

Inflation cooling

The Consumer Price Index – a closely watched indicator of inflation – rose 6.5% in December of the previous year. That was the smallest annual increase since October 2021, the Labor Department said Thursday, and continues the steady drop in price increases since peaking at 9% in June last year. Falling prices for energy, commodities and used cars offset increases in food and shelter.

But if eggs remain expensive, Kelly Fischer, a Chicago resident, said she will start to think more seriously about building a chicken coop in her backyard, because everyone in her family eats eggs.

“We (with the neighbors) are thinking about building a chicken coop behind our houses, so eventually I hope I don’t buy them and have my own eggs and I think the cost goes into that a little bit,” said the 46-year-old school teacher. public school. while shopping at HarvesTime Foods on the north side of town. “For me, it’s more the environmental impact and trying to buy locally.”

Eggs are just one of several staples skyrocketing in price in 2022. For example, margarine costs in December were up 44% year-on-year, while butter was up 31%, according to CPI data.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report