AUSTIN (KXAN) — The price of eggs spiked to a historic high last year – the average cost of a carton of eggs hitting $3.59 in November, up from $1.72 a year earlier.
Consumers are undoubtedly catching on to these soaring prices, as the demand for shelled eggs slightly dipped in the last week, which caused prices to trend slightly downward, according to the USDA.
Though there has been a slight dip, Stephanie Klein of Texas A&M’s Department of Poultry Science said it might be a while before we see a carton of eggs returning to a price consumers are more accustomed to.
What is causing the spike in prices?
There are several reasons for the current spike in prices, Klein said. For one, there was a severe outbreak of avian influenza among many species of birds, including egg-laying hens in commercial facilities.
The disease is carried in migratory birds and can spread to poultry when they come into contact with each other. When avian flu is detected in a commercial flock, producers often have to euthanize the affected birds to control the outbreak, Klein said. Avian influenza led to the deaths of over 52 million birds in 2022.
“(Avian Flu) is highly pathogenic. It has a very high mortality rate,” Klein said.
Klein said that while the flu is the largest reason driving up prices, inflation is also a factor. Production costs – fuel to transport the birds and their food – are also up.
The last reason has to do with supply and demand. Avian flu has led to a decrease in egg production. While the USDA said demand for eggs is trending downward, it remains higher than last year. When more people want eggs, and there are fewer to go around, prices go up.
When will prices drop?
Klein said that the price of eggs likely won’t return to a more normal level until August. After flocks had to be euthanized following the avian influenza outbreak, all of those birds had to be replaced.
Klein said egg producers have been repopulating their coops, and many of the chicks will hatch in the next few weeks. After they emerge from their shells, It takes around 20 weeks until they can start laying eggs of their own and 40 weeks before they reach their peak production levels.