As someone who eats plenty of eggs, the higher prices have not slipped my attention. If you have been grocery shopping recently or even checked social media, it’s pretty obvious that egg prices are soaring.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price of a dozen eggs rose 59% last year, with prices more than doubling in West Virginia and six other states in the upper Midwest. This jump in price was even more shocking in the case of eggs classified as grade A, with prices soaring up to almost 140%.
This surge has been the inspiration of many memes on social media, specifically Twitter and Reddit. These memes are usually based on the idea that made-up “egg investors” beat benchmarks like the S&P 500, yields on 10-year Treasury notes, or bitcoin in 2022.
Of course, there’s no such thing as tradeable egg futures, but the Consumer Price Index does include eggs – and the monthly inflation reports show that the price of a dozen jumped to $3.73 in December from $2.34 at the end of 2021.
Here are two factors that farmers have pinpointed that are fueling the egg price crisis:
Inflation has been a huge problem for a while now, and now egg prices are surging because of it as well.
Ron Eichner, who owns Eichner’s Family Farm in Wexford, PA, told NPR last week, “This year, my feed cost has jumped 26%, my electric cost is up 30%, and now my cost of cartons is up 45%. You know, these are things that you have to escalate now into your retail product.”
Demand for eggs is also somewhat inelastic, meaning consumers go for eggs when they are on a diet. This draws more attention to the fact that prices are rising for this specific food since eggs can be used in a balanced diet, unlike cookies and other “junk food.”
Bird Flu Outbreak
As of right now, the US is also dealing with a pretty bad bird flu outbreak, which is killing thousands of hens and making it harder to obtain eggs to sell.
This flu outbreak is causing egg prices to spiral higher and faster than any other farmed foods. This is also the leading cause of the memes that I mentioned earlier.
Unfortunately, with inflation still going stronger than it’s been in all of history and the bird flu knocking out huge numbers of supplies, it’s unlikely that this crisis will be over anytime soon.