Care Health

Prioritize Healthy life

Why Are Eggs So Expensive Right Now?

Why Are Eggs So Expensive Right Now?

If the price of whipping up your usual shakshuka or scramble is making you stagger in disbelief, you’re not alone. 

Now that we’ve been marked safe from other country-wide, pandemic-related shortages of toilet paper, canning supplies, baby formula, turkey, butter, and more, the cost of eggs is spiking—and acting as a clear sign of an egg shortage that’s already occurring.

While the situation is evolving by the day and varies in severity throughout the U.S, all signs point to the fact that we’ll be shelling out more money per dozen in the coming weeks and months. Read on for more about how much prices have changed, as well as to get the answer to “why is there an egg shortage?” Then we’ll share egg substitute ideas for all of your cooking and baking needs so you need not abandon all of your favorite egg recipes.

Why Is There an Egg Shortage?

Echoing the news in November about supplies of the Thanksgiving centerpiece, the avian influenza is impacting the amount of chickens and turkeys in the United States—including the birds that lay eggs. This strain of avian flu has led to the death of about 11 million birds from October through December 2022 alone. It’s so strong and contagious, in fact, that this virus kills 90% to 100% of chickens who encounter it within two days. Health officials have mandated that any infected bird must be slaughtered to try to slow the spread, and as a result, this is the deadliest outbreak of “bird flu” in American history. The population of “layer chickens,” or the hens that lay eggs, has fallen by about 5% due to this outbreak.

The state with the largest change in supply of layer chickens is Iowa, where about 12 million birds are endangered. Iowa is also the top egg-producing state in the country, under normal circumstances. Backyard chickens in 19 states have also been affected, the CDC confirms.

So how and why did this happen? This particular strain of the avian flu virus was likely given to chickens and turkeys from wild birds; the CDC adds that swans, owls, mallards, and bald eagles have all tested positive, as well.

That said, avian flu isn’t the only factor, according to experts at the American Egg Board. They say that the cost of egg packaging materials, chicken feed (impacted by the war in Ukraine), and fuel prices (which is an essential part of the supply chain to transport the eggs from farms to markets) are all higher as well, which adds even more pennies to the price.

Blaine Moats

How the Egg Shortage Is Impacting Prices

In a classic example of econ 101, as the supply of layer chickens falls, the cost of eggs rises. Egg prices rose 49%, on average, across America in 2022—far more than the 12% increase in food prices due to inflation. The cost of 12 eggs spiked 59.9% from December 2021 to December 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor’s January Consumer Price Index says; 11.1% of that increase occurred from November to December alone.

One dozen eggs clocked in at about $1.40 in March 2022, per the USDA Egg Market Report. As of January 2023, the national average has jumped to $3.26 per dozen. Prices vary widely throughout the country, however. In California, eggs are going for $7.37 per dozen as of late January 2023.

What You Can Do About the Egg Shortage

Just like with the other recent food and supply shortages, there’s no need to panic. The shelves may be less-densely stocked and the prices of eggs are definitely higher, but there are more than enough to feed all of our cravings for egg casseroles, frittatas, deviled eggs, custards, macarons, and beyond. 

The USDA’s egg market and broiler market report that there’s more than enough to go around, and they list just three commercial poultry flocks nationwide that are currently impacted by the avian flu. It may still spread more, which would mean extra price spikes, but supplies are currently solid—although prices are high.

If you’d rather not crack into your piggy bank to ante up for the more expensive eggs, our Test Kitchen verifies that there are several egg substitutes and even vegan egg substitutes that work well for a variety of culinary uses. There are also liquid and powdered egg alternatives on the market (such as Just EGG and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Egg Replacer) that work well for cooking and baking recipes, respectively. Compare the prices at your local retailer to confirm the best budget-friendly, nutrition, and flavor choice for you.