Bird flu resurgence drives up egg prices, spurring some to stock up

Daily News
5 Min Read
Bird flu resurgence drives up egg prices, spurring some to stock up

Unstamped brown eggs.

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Bird flu fears are driving up egg prices again.

After having subsided for most of 2023, a recent resurgence of avian influenza in poultry facilities across the U.S., Japan and other nations have caused prices of eggs to jump again.

The virus, commonly referred to as bird flu, is extremely contagious and lethal among birds, has been detected in dairy herds in recent days.

“The reason for the big surge in egg prices is HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza) hitting egg farms and killing chickens and cutting egg production,” said David Anderson, a professor and food economist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University.

In the U.S., more than 14 million egg-laying chickens died in November and December as a result of avian flu. In the last 30 days, more than 8 million birds among America’s commercial flocks remain infected, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture

We have had record high beef, pork and chicken retail prices so eggs can be a substitute, meaning that egg prices would increase.

David Anderson

professor at Texas A&M University

Two weeks ago, Cal-Maine Foods — the country’s largest chicken egg manufacturer in the U.S. — temporarily halted production and culled more than a million of its flock at one of its facilities after a bird flu outbreak.

“Many countries and regions worldwide like the U.S., EU, Russia, South Africa, India, and Nigeria face historically high price levels,” Nan-Dirk Mulder, a senior analyst at agribusiness bank Rabobank, told CNBC via email.

A dozen grade A, large eggs now cost $2.41 in the U.S., having risen 10% year-to-date.

In Japan, cases of bird flu were reported in domestic poultry farms across several prefectures, infecting hundreds of thousands of hens.

Japan is the second largest consumer of eggs per capita, and eggs are an important ingredient in Japanese cooking. The country saw prices of medium sized eggs climb over 20% from 179 yen ($1.16) per kg at the beginning of the year to around 218 yen per kg as of April 17.

From Mexico to Norway to Indonesia, egg prices have also risen due to a variety of reasons.

Sweltering heat in Mexico have caused many hens to die from heatstroke, local media reported.

Mexico, which consumes the highest number of eggs per capita in the world, saw prices there jump 30% to 45 pesos ($2.63) per kg week-over-week due to an intense heatwave, said a representative of Mexico’s main wholesale market Central de Abastos. Mexico recently registered the highest temperature in its history on April 15.

In Indonesia, the world’s second largest egg producer, prices of purebred chicken eggs also rose more than 10% since the start of the year, according to data from the country’s National Food Agency.

As a result, consumers around the world are finding new ways to cope with the higher egg prices.

Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images

“Stocking up on eggs since I’m assuming they’ll be $7/dozen again in a few weeks,” one user based in the U.S. said on social media platform X.

Another said he was starting to stock up on chicken and eggs: “Remember, you can freeze chicken eggs for a year if you do it properly.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “frozen egg products will remain safe indefinitely” — but store up to one year for the best quality.

In Norway, a shortage of eggs during the Easter holiday drove some Norwegians to flock to neighboring Sweden to stock up on eggs there instead, according to local reports. The 12-month index showing consumer price for eggs in Norway jumped by 17.4% in the month of March, according to a local research database.

Bird flu is not the only thing impacting egg supply. Other driving forces include higher demand for eggs as a result of higher meat prices.

“We have had record high beef, pork and chicken retail prices, so eggs can be a substitute, meaning that egg prices would increase,” said Texas A&M University’s Anderson.

Share This Article
Leave a comment