Thein the US, household budgets are denting. In recent years, Americans have increased the number of eggs they eat while reducing their intake of beef and game, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture.
Egg consumption has increased in part because more families are eating them as their main protein substitute, Los Angeles Times reporter Sonja Sharp told CBS News. “Each of us eats about as many eggs as a hen can lay in a year,” she said.
As demand for eggs has increased, production in the United States has fallen due to the ongoing. Nearly 58 million birds have been infected with bird flu as of Jan. 6, the USDA said, making it the deadliest outbreak in U.S. history. Infected birds have to be slaughtered, causing the egg supply to drop and prices to rise.
Egg prices in December rose 60% from the previous year, according to data from the consumer price index published on Thursday. Across U.S. cities, the average price for a dozen large Class A eggs was $4.25 last month, according to figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
In some states, it can even be difficult to find eggs on the shelves. But the egg supply is generally maintained because the total flock of egg-laying hens is only down approx. 5% from the normal size of around 320 million hens. Farmers have been working to replace their herds as soon as they can after an outbreak.
Sharp said prices likely won’t drop again until after new chicks are born free of infection and grow to egg-laying age. More than 300 flocks of farm-raised poultry have been affected by the outbreak since last Friday, according to USDA data.
In New York, grocery store owner Jose Filipe said skyrocketing egg costs have caused many customers to change their spending habits.
“I’ve seen customers move from buying organic eggs now to more conventional eggs, and especially now, the half-dozen. Prices have quadrupled in about six or seven months,” he.
What is bird flu?
Bird flu is carried by free-flying waterfowl, such as ducks, geese and shorebirds, and infects chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese and guinea fowl. In another major recent epidemic of the disease, it killed more than 50 million chickens and turkeys in 2014 and 2015, while causing economic losses of $3.3 billion, the USDA estimates. The agency is now researching a potential vaccine against bird flu.
Fortunately, the public health risk associated with bird flu remains low, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, cooking all poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165˚F is recommended as a general food safety rule.
The cost of processed eggs – used in liquid or powdered form in manufactured products including salad dressing, cake mix and chips – has also increased, adding to inflationary pressures.
The Consumer Price Index – a closely watched gauge of inflation –from the previous year. It was the smallest annual increase since October 2021, the Labor Department reported Thursday and continues the steady decline in price increases since peaking at 9% last June. Falling prices for energy, raw materials and used cars offset the increase in food and shelter.
But if eggs remain expensive, Chicago resident Kelly Fischer said she’ll start thinking more seriously about building a backyard chicken coop because everyone in her family eats eggs.
“We (with neighbours) are considering building a chicken coop behind our houses, so in the end I hope not to buy them and have my own eggs, and I think the cost comes into it a bit,” said the 46-year-old school teacher. while shopping at HarvestsTime Foods on the city’s north side. “For me, it’s more about the environmental impact and trying to buy local.”
Eggs are just one of a number of foods that skyrocketed in price in 2022. For example, margarine costs rose 44% in December from a year ago, while butter rose 31%, according to the CPI data.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report