Notice those grocery bills getting higher than usual each time you step out to the supermarket? It's not just you. Ingredients like butter, breakfast cereals, and snack food have been increasing in price but even their increase looks like child’s play compared to what is happening with eggs. Keep reading to find out why.
This January, the U.S. Department of Labor’s January Consumer Price Index revealed that the cost of eggs has increased 59.9% year-over-year, with the price jumping as high as 11.1% between November and December.
In December, the average cost of a dozen eggs was $4.25 in December 2022. In December 2021, that price was $1.79. There are even reports that eggs can get more costly than that depending on which part of the country you are in. In California, one egg carton can cost as much as $7.37.
According to Steve Reed, an economist at the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, eggs contributed greatly to higher household grocery bills in December. He said:
"If you sort of removed eggs, if you took eggs out of [the ‘food at home' category], it would have been virtually flat. Eggs were over 90% of that [cost] increase.”
Why is this so? There are quite different factors that may have combined to hike up egg prices with one being the ongoing bird flu epidemic. Recent information released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that nearly 59 million birds in 46 different states are down with the disease.
Any bird infected with this flu has to be slaughtered and this has greatly affected the available egg supply. In fact, the total number of hens laying eggs has now decreased by 5%.
It is an unfortunate event but according to Emily Metz, president and chief executive of the American Egg Board, the flu is not the only reason eggs are more expensive. Metz acknowledged the flu as a factor but argued that it is not the biggest one right now.
Metz said that increases in fuel cost, chicken feed and egg packaging were also factors that were making the eggs more costly. Restaurant owners have had to deal with the shock of the steep increase especially those who serve breakfast portions.
For now, many restaurants are attempting to cover the cost without having to increase their menu prices, especially because they don’t know how much their customers know of what is going on.