Chickens may not high, but egg prices are on the rise.
A lingering bird flu outbreak. Combined with rising feed, fuel and labor costs, has more than doubled . U.S. egg prices over the past year and created plenty of sticker shock in grocery aisles.
The national average price of a dozen eggs hit $3.59 in November, up from $1.72 a year earlier. According to the latest government data. This is putting pressure on consumer budgets and on restaurantsbakeries. And other food producers who rely on eggs.
Grocery prices, which rose 12% in. November, are also pushing up inflation, although the . Pace of price increases has slowed as gas prices ease.
But egg prices were higher than other foods — even higher. Than chicken or turkey — because egg farmers were hit harder by bird flu. More than 43 million of the 58 million birds raised last year to control . The virus are egg-laying chickens, including some farms with more. Than a million birds in major egg-producing states like Iowa.
At Omaha’s High-Ve grocery store. Those who approach the egg cases are “sour-mouthed,” said shopper Nancy Stomm.
But even with the cost increase, eggs remain . Cheap compared to the cost of other proteins such as chicken or beef. With a pound of chicken breast selling for an average of $4.42 and. A pound of ground beef for $4.85 in November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“It’s still a cheap meal,” Stomm said. But the 70-year-old woman said that at those prices. She would look more at her eggs in the fridge and try not to let them go bad before use.
If prices stay that high, Kelly Fisher said she’ll start thinking more. About building a backyard chicken coop in Chicago . Because everyone in her family eats eggs.
“We (with neighbors) are thinking about building a chicken coop behind our house. So in the end I hope not to buy them and get my own eggs and. the cost will come down a bit,” said the 46-year-old public school teacher in the city. Time to shop at HarvestTime Foods on the North Side. “For me, it’s more about environmental impact and trying to buy .”
In some places, eggs can also be hard to find on the shelves. But egg supplies are stuck as the total flock is about 5% below normal size at about 320 million hens. Farmers are working to replace their herds as as possible after the outbreak.
Jacob Werner, 18, said he tries to find the cheapest eggs because he eats five or six a day . While trying to gain weight and build muscle.
“For a while, I stopped eating eggs because they were so expensive. But because they’re my favorite food, I ended up coming back to them,” says Werner, who lives in Chicago. “So I stopped eating eggs for a few months, waiting for the price to drop. It never did. So buying again now.”
Purdue University agricultural economist Jason Lusk said he believes . The bird flu outbreak is the biggest driver of price increases. Unlike previous years. The virus lingered throughout the summer and resurfaced last fall. Infecting egg and chicken farms.
But he said bird flu remains a wildcard. That could drive up prices if more large-scale outbreaks occur at egg farms.
Farmers are doing their best to limit the spread. But the disease is spread by migrating wild birds and . The virus can be picked up on clothing or vehicles.
“But there are some things that are out of our control,” Thompson said. “You can’t control nature sometimes.“
Food manufacturers and restaurants are suffering because . It is difficult to find a good substitute for eggs in their recipes.
Any drop in egg prices. Would be welcome at Patty Stobaugh’s two restaurants and two bakeries in Conway and . Russellville, Arkansas, because . All her ingredients and supplies are more expensive these days. For some of her baked goods, Stobaugh has switched to a frozen egg product that’s less expensive. But she still buys eggs for all the breakfasts she serves.
A case of 15 dozen eggs has gone from $36 to $86 in the past year, but flour, butter, chicken and. Everything else are also more expensive. Stobaugh says he is “careful about every little item.”
He has already raised his prices by 8% in the last year and may have to raise them again soon. It’s a delicate balance of not making it too expensive for people to eat and not hurting sales. But he doesn’t have much of a choice when trying to provide for his 175 employees.
“We have many employees who work for us and we are. Responsible for paying salaries every week and supporting their families. We take this very . But it was definitely tough,” Stobaugh said.