The USDA charts egg prices across the country. At the end of 2022, the average cost for a dozen large eggs nationwide was $5.40. That’s about $4 more than at the beginning of the year. That’s not even considering the typically higher-priced varieties, like free-range organic.
Chris Mullins with Virginia State University explains there are two main reasons for the jump in price. First, an outbreak of avian flu has devastated flocks and farms.
“That’s been the big factor that’s really caused a shortage of eggs,” Mullins said. Second, the increased cost to keep farms going, like grain, fuel and other resources. “If we are in an inflated state, the prices are higher. That, coupled with less potential eggs is a perfect storm,” Mullins said.
Mullins says January prices have dipped from last year. The price is down to $4.65 from $5.40 at the end of 2022.
Egg prices hit historic peaks ahead of the December holidays, when egg demand is at its highest. But even slight decreases in recent weeks mean shoppers in the United States started the new year facing far higher than average costs. In California, the priciest market, shoppers were shelling out an average of $7.37 for a dozen Grade A large eggs, roughly three times the cost from a year earlier.
The egg industry is dealing with unresolved supply chain challenges kicked off by the coronavirus pandemic — including labor and building costs — as well as a devastating outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) that began in February. The outbreak drove up the price of Thanksgiving turkeys in November, but its impact continues to ripple in the egg industry. According to the Agriculture Department, the flu has wiped out more than 44 million egg-laying hens, or roughly 4 to 5 percent of production.
“The flu is the most important factor affecting egg prices,” said Maro Ibarburu, a business analyst at the Egg Industry Center at Iowa State University. “This outbreak, in terms of egg-laying hens, we lost 10 million more egg-laying hens than the last outbreak in 2015.”