Here's Why Eggs Are so Expensive Right Now
The average cost of eggs almost doubled in the final quarter of 2022.
In 2022, an opinion writer for The Hill shared that wealth inequality in America was a "domestic IED, ready to explode." Dramatic as that statement is, it was written before the price of eggs skyrocketed in the final quarter of 2022 and now it feels somewhat prophetic. Between September 2022 and December 2022, the average price of a carton of eggs in the US went from $2.90 to $4.25. That's a $0.11 price increase per egg. You can see the dramatic spike in the graph below.
What caused the price of eggs to be so expensive?
The surging price of eggs can't be pinpointed to any single reason. In 2022, a wave of bird flu affected millions of birds. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the strain of the flu affected more than 57 million "US wild aquatic birds, commercial poultry and backyard or hobbyist flocks" since January 2022.
But other issues can also be factored into the equation. "When you're looking at fuel costs going up, and you're looking at feed costs going up as much as 60%, labor costs, packaging costs—all of that ... those are much much bigger factors than bird flu for sure," Emily Metz, president and CEO of trade group American Egg Board, told Yahoo News.
The increase in production costs and bird flu affecting overall supply were further exasperated by the increased demand for eggs during the holiday season. Everybody was using eggs over the holidays, for nog and foods such as baked goods, appetizers and breakfast.
And for the cherry on top—inflation has affected the cost of all food in 2021 and 2022, and the Consumer Price Index went up by 12% between November 2021 and November 2022.
When will eggs get cheaper?
The dramatic increase in the cost of a carton of eggs isn't expected to increase further, but none of the data points to the costs lowering dramatically anytime soon. "Prices for eggs at retail have begun to ease but remain at historically-high levels—sufficiently high to raise concern but not enough to dampen consumer taste for eggs," the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.
As demand for eggs continues to dwindle in the New Year, the strain may help ease prices. But, demand might not decrease as much as it has in years past. According to the USDA, egg consumption has increased in popularity by 17% since 2012. We might just be one egg-intensive TikTok trend away from an egg-pocalypse.
The bird flu is another factor that may further impact the industry. “The flu is the most important factor affecting egg prices,” Maro Ibarburu, a business analyst at the Egg Industry Center, said in an interview with the Washington Post. Should the spread of the illness be contained, the egg industry will recover rapidly. If the flu continues to spread… well, maybe it's time to start looking at more vegan recipes.