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Sky-high egg prices are finally coming back down to earth

Eggs are on display at a Sprouts grocery store on April 12 in San Rafael, Calif.
Justin Sullivan
Getty Images
Eggs are on display at a Sprouts grocery store on April 12 in San Rafael, Calif.

Egg prices soared in recent months, driving up grocery bills for many Americans, but buyers can see the sunny side now that the cost of a dozen eggs is dropping in stores across the country.

The spike in egg prices was caused by a number of factors, including an avian flu outbreak that affected tens of millions of birds across the country.

But the bird flu outbreak has eased, inflation has loosened its grip on the economy, and whipping up an omelet has suddenly become more affordable.

The USDA's most recent report on national egg prices puts the typical wholesale price of a dozen eggs somewhere between $0.99 and $1.39.

It's a far cry from the wholesale price of $5 for a dozen eggs in many places across the country earlier this year, according to department figures.

The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the average consumers would pay for a dozen eggs in April was around $3.27, the lowest it had been since September.

Phil Lempert, editor of the website SupermarketGuru.com, said that not only have egg prices fallen, but stores are no longer running out of the protein-rich commodity, as they had been in recent months.

"The good news is, if you go into a grocery store, you're going to see eggs. versus just a couple months ago when you weren't going to see eggs," Lempert told NPR, "and if you were, they were $5, $6, $7 a dozen."

Likely the main reason egg prices are coming back down is that the poultry industry is recovering from the bird flu outbreak.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 58 million birds have been affected by highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the most recent outbreak, including commercial poultry as well as backyard chickens.

Lempert said it takes months for newly born hens, unaffected by the highly contagious and lethal bird flu, to be able to lay eggs that can then be sold to consumers.

Grocery prices can also be tied to inflation, which remained high in April but decreased slightly. Consumer prices increased 4.9% over the same period a year ago, but they dipped compared to prior months.

Egg prices may not fully return to previous levels anytime soon though, Lempert said, since egg producers will want to make up for lost earnings and other supply chain issues, such as labor shortages and trucking industry woes.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Hernandez
[Copyright 2024 NPR]

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