Jan 7, 2023 - Economy

Egg prices expected to drop after a year of increases

Data: FRED, BLS; Note: Data is not seasonally adjusted; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FRED, BLS; Note: Data is not seasonally adjusted; Chart: Axios Visuals

High egg prices are starting to retreat from December's record highs, but it might take time before you see a difference at the store, experts tell Axios.

Why it matters: While grocery items have broadly gotten more expensive, no food item has been impacted by inflation as much as eggs and their prices often give a clue about the current economic environment.

  • That's because eggs are not only an ingredient in many other foods and meals, they’re also the product of other food sources, Axios' Hope King writes.
  • The price of eggs was up over 49% in November compared to a year earlier, according to the Consumer Price Index, a key inflation barometer.

Driving the news: Egg prices were on average $4.63 for a dozen Midwest large eggs Friday down from $5.46 in the days before and after Christmas, according to Urner Barry's Egg Index.

  • That's more than a gallon of gas in many parts of the country.
  • Midwest large eggs — the benchmark for eggs sold in their shells — were $5.13 Tuesday and dropped to $4.98 Wednesday, then $4.78 Thursday before dropping again Friday, Urner Barry's data shows.
  • A dozen large eggs cost approximately $1.50 in early January 2022 and 94 cents in January 2021, the research firm found.

The big picture: The bird flu outbreak, the worst in U.S. history, and consumer demand have also driven up prices.

  • The avian influenza outbreak that began in February 2022, has killed approximately 60 million birds, which includes 41 million commercial egg-laying hens, Karyn Rispoli, editor of the Egg Price Current for Urner Barry, told Axios.

Flashback: The last major bird flu outbreak was in 2015 and consumers also “experienced quite a bit of sticker shock when egg prices went up,” Rispoli said.

Meanwhile, wholesale prices are now starting to retreat from December as we move past the holiday baking season and high holiday demand, said Brian Moscogiuri, a global trade strategist at Eggs Unlimited, an egg supplier based in Irvine, California.

Yes, but: Egg prices at stores might take longer to drop because retail pricing often lags the wholesale market, Moscogiuri told Axios, adding there is traditionally a 20 to 30% drop from seasonal highs to January and February lows.

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