Austin (KXAN) — The price of eggs jumped to an all-time high last year, with the average cost of a carton of eggs reaching $3.59 in November from $1.72 a year earlier.
Consumers are no doubt catching on to this skyrocketing price rise as demand for in-shell eggs eased slightly last week, causing a slight downward trend in prices, according to the USDA.
Despite a slight decline, Texas A&M Poultry Department’s Stephanie Klein said it may be some time before we see the price of eggs return to a more familiar price for consumers.
What caused the price jump?
According to Klein, there are several reasons for the current price spike. First, there has been a severe outbreak of avian influenza in many bird species, including commercial laying hens.
The disease is carried by migratory birds and can spread to poultry through contact with each other. When bird flu is found in a commercial flock, producers often have to euthanize affected birds to control the outbreak, Klein said. In 2022, the bird flu killed over 52 million birds.
“(Avian flu) is highly pathogenic. It has a very high mortality rate,” Klein said.
Klein said that while the flu is the main reason for the rise in prices, inflation is also a factor. Production costs – fuel for transporting birds and feed – have also risen.
The last reason has to do with supply and demand. Bird flu has led to a decrease in egg production. While the USDA has said demand for eggs is on a downward trend, it remains higher than last year. When more people want eggs and fewer, prices go up.
When will prices drop?
Klein said egg prices are not likely to return to normal levels until August. After the flocks had to be euthanized after the bird flu outbreak, all of these birds had to be replaced.
Klein said egg producers have repopulated their coops and many chicks will hatch in the next few weeks. After they emerge from their shells, it takes about 20 weeks before they can start laying their own eggs and 40 weeks before they reach their peak production levels.