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Nutrition Security: US Egg producers face high costs as wholesale prices drop

*Industry analysts say egg production in the United States is up, but so are producers’ costs, and as chicken flocks are rebounding, wholesale prices are decreasing

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The wholesale egg prices have plunged in the United States (US) market, but analysts have asked when will consumers see lower retail prices in the American economy?

ConsumerConnect learnt the experts opined that “lower prices should show up” soon.

If you’ve adjusted your breakfast menu in the last year because of the high cost of eggs, experts stated, you should soon be able to get back to your regular morning routine.

The wholesale price of eggs has plunged in recent weeks, report noted.

This week the wholesale price of a dozen eggs dropped to $2.61.

The price variation was more than 50 percent lower than mid-December’s average price of $5.43.

Market research firm Urner Barry’s report also indicated egg prices had plunged by 47 percent so far this year.

However, consumers probably haven’t noticed the development, report said.

This is attributed to a lag in the time that a wholesale price is reflected in prices at the supermarket or superstore.

Indeed, retail egg prices were still extremely high throughout December 2022.

Referencing the Labour Department’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), the price consumers paid for eggs was up over 11 percent from November.

During all of 2022, retail prices soared by 60 percent.

Last spring a particularly strong form of avian flu decimated domestic chicken flocks.

The outbreak flared up again last fall, killing millions of chickens and driving prices even higher.

Egg production is up, but so are producers’ costs

Industry analysts say chicken flocks are rebounding and that’s bringing down prices.

However, they point out that producers face higher costs in other areas.

John Brunnquell, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Egg Innovations, told Wisconsin Public Radio, that “everything we buy, from cartons and boxes and freight and fuel, pretty much every input we purchase went up in cost in 2022.”

Brunnquell said the avian flu caused the deaths of around 38 million laying hens across the US last year, though government health officials put the number closer to 58 million.

Much of 2022’s price surge was simply a supply and demand issue.

Now that wholesale egg prices are on a downward slope, just when will shoppers see lower prices for a carton of eggs at the grocery store? Maybe within weeks, experts say.

How low will egg prices get? How low will prices fall?

Meanwhile, it is said this is “less certain”.

In a way of comparison, a dozen large Grade A eggs cost consumers $4.25 on average last December, more than double the $1.79 retail price a year earlier, according to government data.

While Brunnquell and other egg producers are facing higher costs they may find they must aggressively lower prices to sell eggs to a public that has lately changed its menu to avoid high prices.

The US Department of Agriculture recently noted: “Consumer demand for shell eggs continues to track lower, and is below average and below the levels recorded a year ago.

“Resistance to record high prices in grocery outlets across the country continues to slow shell egg movement.”

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