OMAHA, Neb. — Chickens could not be capable of fly very far, however the worth of eggs is hovering.
A lingering chicken flu outbreak, mixed with hovering feed, gasoline and labor prices, has led to U.S. egg costs greater than doubling over the previous yr, and hatched a number of sticker shock on grocery aisles.
The nationwide common worth for a dozen eggs hit $3.59 in November, up from $1.72 a yr earlier, in line with the newest authorities information. That’s placing stress on shopper budgets and the underside strains of eating places, bakeries and different meals producers that rely closely on eggs.
Grocery costs that had been up 12% in November are driving inflation larger, regardless that the general tempo of worth will increase slowed a bit by the autumn as fuel costs eased.
But egg costs are up considerably greater than different meals — much more than hen or turkey — as a result of egg farmers had been hit more durable by the chicken flu. More than 43 million of the 58 million birds slaughtered over the previous yr to regulate the virus have been egg-laying chickens, together with some farms with greater than 1,000,000 birds apiece in main egg-producing states like Iowa.
Everyone who approaches the egg case a Hy-Vee grocery retailer in Omaha, “has a sour face,” stated shopper Nancy Stom.
But even with the price will increase, eggs stay comparatively low-cost in comparison with the worth of different proteins like hen or beef, with a pound of hen breasts going for $4.42 on common in November and a pound of floor beef promoting for $4.85, in line with the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“It’s still an inexpensive meal,” Stom stated. But the 70-year-old stated that at these costs, she’ll watch her eggs extra carefully within the fridge and take a look at to not allow them to go dangerous earlier than they get used.
Purdue University agricultural economist Jayson Lusk stated he believes the chicken flu outbreak is the most important driver within the worth will increase. Unlike previous years, the virus lingered all through the summer season and made a resurgence final fall infecting egg and poultry farms.
“Bird flu is not the only factor, but in my view it’s the main driver of what we’re experiencing at the moment,” Lusk stated.
But the president and CEO of the American Egg Board commerce group, Emily Metz, stated she believes all the price will increase farmers have confronted previously yr had been an even bigger issue.
“When you’re looking at fuel costs go up, and you’re looking at feed costs go up as much as 60%, labor costs, packaging costs — all of that … those are much much bigger factors than bird flu for sure,” Metz stated.
Jada Thomson, a University of Arkansas agricultural economist, stated there could also be some aid coming within the subsequent couple months as a result of egg farmers have been steadily changing flocks misplaced to chicken flu final yr and demand will ease now that persons are performed with vacation baking.
But she stated chicken flu stays a wildcard that would nonetheless drive costs larger if there are extra sizeable outbreaks at egg farms.