Avian Flu Is Sending Egg Prices Soaring: USDA

Avian Flu Is Sending Egg Prices Soaring: USDA
Chickens gather around a feeder at a farm in Osage, Iowa, on Aug. 9, 2014. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Bryan Jung
The recent worldwide outbreak of H5N1 avian flu viruses is forcing American farmers to kill millions of egg-laying hens, resulting in reduced egg supplies and higher costs around the country in the worst outbreak of bird flu to hit the United States since 2015.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s daily Midwest regional egg report on April 11, the price of a dozen large grade A white eggs for retailers in the Midwest reached between $2.80 and $2.89, more than double the $1.25 cost in March 2022.

For humans, “the risk to the general public’s health from current H5N1 bird flu viruses is low,” and the virus is “primarily an animal health issue,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the flu is very deadly for poultry stocks.

The USDA’s standard protocol is to kill infected flocks to curb the spread of the disease, due to the flu’s deadliness and ease of spread to domesticated poultry.

“We'll see a reduced price on-shelf for eggs,” he said.
He commented that although wholesale egg prices are rising, it does not mean that supermarkets will pass on those costs to consumers.
Retail promotional activity was very limited and offered little incentive for shoppers to buy beyond immediate needs, according to the USDA’s weekly Egg Markets Overview report, from April 8.

Some stores appear to be coping with higher costs by eliminating their egg promotions rather than raise prices, but prices are eventually likely to go up the longer this crisis continues.

“I would expect we’re going to see at least a 30 or 40 percent premium on top of [typical prices] through the summer months this year as a result of the tighter supply,” Earnest told CNN Business.

The number of egg-laying hens was relatively low, even before the avian flu hit the United States this year.

Frozen or dry egg stocks are “down significantly from what they typically are,” said Earnest, who believes this is a sign that there will be some egg shortages later in 2022.

Bryan S. Jung is a native and resident of New York City with a background in politics and the legal industry. He graduated from Binghamton University.
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