Why you will likely see higher egg prices ahead of Easter

Written by on March 21, 2024

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(NEW YORK) — After months of egg prices slowly falling, the staple Easter item is on the rise again in part due to a resurgence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in egg-laying flocks, commonly referred to as bird flu.

Since the start of November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has reported 13.64 million table egg-laying hens lost to the disease.

Table egg prices are projected to increase as a result of the recent production losses, according to the USDA’s latest Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook.

Experts agreed in a 2024 Easter report and analysis from Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute, adding that the latest wave of bird flu has made the market highly variable and unpredictable.

“Egg prices have always been volatile throughout history, but HPAI has amplified the market response because of lower supplies of eggs,” Sector Manager Kevin Bergquist told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “Until the time when the nation’s egg-laying flock size recovers from HPAI, egg prices are likely to remain very changeable from week-to-week, sometimes dramatically so.”

Prices are also “historically higher” when seasonal demand spikes as Easter nears — as kids dip hard boiled eggs into colorful dye to hide for an egg hunt.

“We expect this will probably be true again this year. Although it’s hard to say whether consumers will find sales or bargain-priced eggs before Easter at their local grocer, they may find that conventional eggs are comparatively less expensive than specialty eggs,” Bergquist said.

With much uncertainty among farmers and their flocks, Bergquist added that consumers should “expect the unexpected” while egg prices “remain highly variable for the near future.”

“Eggs are often considered an essential food item, and the demand can be inelastic at times,” he said, adding “it’s a little hard to substitute anything else when dyeing Easter eggs, right?”

According to the USDA, an outbreak of HPAI physically reduces the number of egg-laying hens, and thus the available supply of eggs to the market.

The USDA data from the latest HPAI outbreak this winter shows that bird flu “is expanding at a similar pace to the previous major outbreak” widespread in regions across the U.S.

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