The price of eggs is surging due to a strand of avian flu

2022-05-27 23:02:54 By : Ms. vicky xiang

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A deadly and highly contagious strain of avian flu has forced American farmers to kill millions of hens, which has slashed the supply of eggs and made the breakfast staple more expensive.

Retailers in the Midwest recently were buying a dozen large grade A white eggs from farmers for between $2.80 and $2.89, according to data released by the US Department of Agriculture.

That’s more than twice the amount they paid in March. At the time, retailers were paying farmers around $1.25 per dozen grade A white eggs, according to industry analyst Brian Earnest of Cobank.

When demand is particularly high around Easter season, prices that retailers pay farmers — and consumers pay at the grocery store — can jump even further. This year, with the culled flocks because of bird flu, those prices are expected to jump even more sharply.

In recent weeks, farmers have culled 11 million egg-laying hens due to a severe outbreak of avian flu. Earnest predicted that millions more hens will be killed in a bid to stamp out the epidemic.

The avian flu outbreak, the worst since 2015; the continued supply chain difficulties; and the higher costs of feeding egg-laying hens have created a perfect storm that has hit Americans in the pocketbook.

While humans may need to pay more for eggs, there’s no need to worry about contracting the pathogen, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The federal agency said avian flu is “primarily an animal health issue” and that “the risk to the general public’s health from current H5N1 bird flu viruses is low.”

Federal guidelines require farmers to cull flocks that have been infected with avian flu.

A spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Agriculture told CNN that “we currently have more than a dozen sites impacted by the disease.”

As a result, farmers in the Hawkeye State have been forced to put down 11.2 million laying hens — nearly a fifth of about 56 million laying hens in Iowa overall.

Experts said the outbreak is caused by birds that are migrating to the country. Migration season runs from March until about May.

Global food prices have soared in recent weeks thanks to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The United Nations said Friday that its food price index jumped nearly 13% from February to March, with wheat, barley, corn, oats and sunflower oil in short supply because of the six-week-old war in Ukraine.

In the US, surging costs for gas, food and housing have fueled record levels of inflation.

Earlier this month, the Department of Labor said prices rose by 7.9% over the past year — the sharpest spike in four decades.

Even before the war further accelerated price increases, robust consumer spending, solid pay raises and persistent supply shortages had sent US inflation to its highest level since the early 1980s.

What’s more, housing costs, which make up about a third of the government’s consumer price index, have risen sharply, a trend that’s unlikely to reverse anytime soon.