Why are egg prices going down and why did they go up so much in recent months?
Egg prices are falling, but what drove them up so high, and when will they return to a more recognizable price point?
From January 2022 to the same point one year later, the price of eggs increased seventy percent. A morning staple transformed into luxury after prices soared in light of various supply chain issues, rising energy costs, and corporate greed. The good news is that prices are coming down. Since January of this year, egg prices have fallen by eighteen percent.
What caused prices to increase?
Exactly how long it will take for prices to return to their previous price point remains unclear. For the time being, what is important is to ensure the well-being of existing chickens and breed new ones to compensate for any shortages. As it takes approximately four to five months for a chicken to start laying eggs after hatching, it’s possible that consumers may have to wait until later in the summer to see a reduction in prices.
Without chickens, there can be no eggs, and chicken numbers are far from where they should be. Some egg producers cited the existence of a bird flu that had killed tens of millions of chickens in a short amount of time, leading to the sudden surge in price. For some scale, that represents around 29 percent of the total chicken population in the US.
The disease is spread from wild birds, much harder to control than an illness within a flock. A highly pathogenic avian influenza virus “can cause disease that affects multiple internal organs with mortality up to 90% to 100% in chickens, often within 48 hours,” the CDC notes.
What other factors are involved?
Alongside this plague, the cost of keeping the chickens fed and housed has also increased throughout 2022. The price of grain, gas, energy, and transport have all shot up in the last twelve months.
There have also been accusations of price gouging alongside inflationary pressures, including from former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, Robert Reich. For example, Newsweek has reported that the largest egg producer in the country, Cal-Maine, saw their profit margin jump over seven hundred percent over the last year.