TheIt cuts down on household budgets in the US. According to the US Department of Agriculture, in recent years Americans have increased the number of eggs they consume while reducing their intake of beef and venison.
Los Angeles Times reporter Sonja Sharp told CBS News that egg consumption has increased in part because more families are eating them as a staple protein substitute. “Each of us eats as many eggs as one hen can lay in a year,” he said.
U.S. production has declined as egg demand continues to rise. According to the USDA, as of January 6, an estimated 58 million birds were infected with bird flu, making it the deadliest outbreak in US history. Infected birds must be culled, which reduces egg supply and increases prices.
Egg prices rose 60% in December compared to the previous year, according to Consumer Price Index data released on Thursday. Across U.S. cities, the average price of a dozen large Grade A eggs last month was $4.25, according to figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
In some states, it can be hard to even find eggs on the shelves. But the egg supply is generally at a standstill because the total flock of laying hens is only 5% below its normal size of 320 million hens. Farmers try to replace their herds as soon as possible after an outbreak.
Prices won’t drop again until new chickens are born infection-free and reach egg-laying age, Sharp said. According to the USDA, more than 300 poultry flocks were affected by the outbreak last Friday.
Jose Filipe, a New York grocery store owner, said rising egg prices have caused many customers to change their spending habits.
“I’ve seen customers go to conventional eggs, especially half a dozen now, rather than buying organic eggs. Prices have quadrupled in about six to seven months,” he said..
What is bird flu?
Avian influenza is transmitted by free-flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese and shorebirds and infects chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl. In another major recent outbreak of the disease, it killed more than 50 million chickens and turkeys in 2014 and 2015, and caused $3.3 billion in economic losses, according to USDA estimates. The agency is currently investigating a potential avian flu vaccine.
Fortunately, the public health risk associated with bird flu remains low, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, cooking all poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F is recommended as a general food safety rule.
The price of processed eggs, used in liquid or powder form in manufactured products including salad dressings, cake mixes and chips, also rose, adding to inflationary pressures.
Cooldown of inflation
The Consumer Price Index – a closely watched inflation indicator –from the previous year. It was the smallest annual increase since October 2021, the Labor Department said Thursday, and continues a steady decline in price increases since reaching 9% in June last year. Falling prices for energy, commodities, and used cars offset increases in food and shelter.
But if eggs remain expensive, Chicago resident Kelly Fisher said she’ll start thinking more seriously about building a backyard chicken coop because everyone in her family eats eggs.
“We (neighbors) are thinking of building a chicken coop behind our house, so hopefully we won’t have to buy them and I’ll have my own eggs, and I think it’s a bit more expensive,” said the 46-year-old public school teacher. while shopping at HarvestsTime Foods on the city’s North Side. “For me, it’s more about environmental impact and trying to buy locally.”
Eggs are just one of a number of food products that will become more expensive in 2022. For example, according to CPI data, the price of margarine in December increased by 44% compared to a year ago, and butter by 31%.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report