Although mainstream media reports hints of an egg shortage were coming in October-November 2022, actual fears began prior to Easter of that year.
My sources in the grocery and supply chain business were talking about the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) epidemic back then.
By summer 2022, that flu drastically affected commercial and backyard flocks in 47 states in the U.S.
By January 2023, the US Department of Agriculture indicated close to 58 million birds have been lost to this killer virus in every state but Hawaii, Louisiana and West Virginia, with Iowa suffering the most losses.
Iowa, the top egg-producing state in the country, under normal circumstances, currently has about 12 million birds considered endangered.
According to the Egg Market News Report released by the US Department of Agriculture, as January 2023 ends, the price of a dozen large eggs ranges from $4.59 in the Midwest to $7.35 in California.
In December 2022, the average price for a dozen eggs in U.S. cities hit an all-time high of $4.25, up from $1.78 a year earlier.
Egg prices rose 49%, on average, across America in 2022—far more than the 12% increase in food prices due to inflation.
The cost of 12 eggs spiked 59.9% from December 2021 to December 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor’s January Consumer Price Index says.
11.1% of that increase occurred from November to December 2022 alone.
Adding to the shortage are that some states have banned sales of eggs from caged birds, including California, Colorado, Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.
Under the Biden Administration, the country has continued to battle against supply chain instability.
Beginning with the now famous toilet paper fiasco and continuing through the egg shortage, the producers and food industry manufacturers realize that there is still plenty of room for improvement and the overall demand for domesticized and localized supply chain fulfillment strategies grows.
Besides the bird flu, the cost of egg packaging materials, chicken feed, and fuel prices (which is an essential part of the supply chain to transport the eggs from farms to markets) are all higher as well, which adds even more pennies to the price.
Americans are now eating the highest number of eggs that government officials had seen over the last half of a century. This has been a surprising twist to the historically-stable supply chain. Prices would ebb and flow with supply and demand, though not nearly as drastically as they have today.
This change was largely thought to be a result of government mandates (which prompted restaurant closures), food guidance shifts, the rise of protein-rich or “keto” diets, and general awareness of eggs as an alternative protein source.
As warmer weather starts to hit different regions of the country, there are expectations of reductions in avian flu cases and the removal of weather-based roadblocks for some of the more rural or weather-affected regions.
In January 2023, on the U.S./Mexico border, officials issued a warning for those trying to cross into the U.S. with uncooked eggs, without informing a border official, is illegal and it could cost you up to a thousand dollars.
”Even though the prices have gone up here in the United States, the rules do not change,” said CBP supervisor Roberto Manzo on the Texas border. “They are prohibited items to cross. We have seen an increase of 300% within the months of November until today.”
Another source of information to consider is what Texas A&M alumni and current students are saying. Here are some comments from them on social media:
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We were in our local HEB a few days ago and there were plenty of eggs. The prices were high, depending on the brand, but HEB had the lowest price on their cage free happy chicken eggs.
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Yay H-E-B! Still trying to keep things somewhat affordable.
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