Why are eggs so expensive in Texas and when will prices drop?
The price of one of cooking’s great emulsifiers has seen its price more than double in the last year due to a chicken plague.
Egg prices have been going up for Americans all year. Prices of Midwest large eggs, the standard for eggs sold in their shells, reached $5.46 per dozen on 23 December 2022, up $3.76 on the same time in 2021.
This acute price rise has been felt even more keenly in Texas. An NBC 5 viewer shared receipts showing the price of a dozen eggs more than doubled from $3.21 on 20 December to $6.52 on 2 January.
“There’s a pretty simple reason for that, and it’s high pathogenic avian influenza, bird flu,” said David Anderson, a professor and extension economist for Texas A&M University in College Station.
It is not known when prices will come back down but it is a case of keeping chickens healthy and breeding new ones to make up for the shortfall. It takes between four and five months from hatching for a chicken to begin laying eggs meaning it could be summertime before consumers can purchase them at lower prices.
What is killing the chickens?
Without chickens there can be no eggs and chicken numbers are far from egg-celent. This has been caused by a variant of bird flu that has killed tens of millions of the animals since the summer. For some scale, that represents around 29 percent of the total chicken popualtion in the US.
The disease is spread from wild birds, much harder to control compared to 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 has also been accusations of price gouging alongside inflationary pressures, including from former secretary of labor Robert Reich.