Grocery costs have risen dramatically in the past year, but nothing beats the price of eggs, which have grown 70.1%, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“What used to be $120 for a box of eggs, now we pay over $100,” says Julia Yum, who runs a 24-hour deli in New York City that has been owned by her family for nearly 30 years.
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To offset inflation, the deli added a surcharge to credit card purchases and increased the prices of many items in the store, including egg cartons. However, the cost of an egg sandwich is still not increasing.
“We don’t want to keep it affordable. We don’t want to lose customers or anything else that we’ve lost because we’re already feeling the effects of the surge,” Yum said.
WHY are eggs so expensive?
Egg prices are suffering from the same supply chain issues and shortages, which have driven food costs up 10.1 percent over the past year, as measured by the Egg Price Index, consumer prices, a key measure of inflation. Egg production was also hit hard by an outbreak of bird disease, which killed 50.54 million birds in the US in 2022.
Avian flu virus can be spread by wild birds mixing with flocks of chickens, but also through contaminated clothing and equipment. The cattle losses are exacerbating the rise in egg prices, which in some states have nearly tripled in the past year.
In California, for example, the retail price for a dozen large eggs is currently $7.37, up from $2.35 a year ago, according to a report released by the US Department of Agriculture last week.
“I know what it takes to make eggs, and I don’t make a lot of money,” said Sam Miller, owner of Cedar Egg Farm, which has about 25,000 chickens. “I am quite ready to stay in business.”
Due to the rising cost of producing eggs, Miller raised the price of a box of five dozen eggs from $45 to $60. But the loss of herds, as well as rising labor prices, including labor and fodder for utensils, hurt income growth. Also, the cost of feeding the chickens has increased to about $14,000 per month, he says.
“Since the beginning of the Ukraine-Russia war, we have seen very high input costs related to grain egg production,” says Brian Moscogiuri, global trade strategist at egg producer Infinite. “.
The costs of preventing bird flu have also taken their toll.
“There are huge costs with sanitation and washing trucks and to deter wild birds,” said Moscogiuri. “This is a God-given situation that was inevitable and there really is no silver bullet to stop it.”
In the meantime, there was a bit of a riot, which drove prices down. As of mid-February 2023, wolf egg prices had fallen by more than 50% since December. As the country tracks the spread of bird flu, experts say the virus will resurface in the spring when wild birds migrate across the US.
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This article was originally published by Mike Winter in English Tasia Jensen for our sister network CNBC.com. Go here from CNBC.