It’s a theme we’ve seen most of the year: high price tags on everyday groceries, especially eggs.
Signs have been posted in groceries stores around the country since spring, acknowledging both high prices and limited supply amid a national egg shortage. At one point, the cost of a dozen eggs exceeded $3 for only the second time in history.
In the months since egg prices have hovered around the same cost. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the average price for a dozen Grade A large eggs rose sharply between March and May, then again between June and August.
Since January 2021, the average retail egg price has gone up 98%, Bernt Nelson, an economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation tells Nexstar.
Though down 3.5% since August, egg prices are up more than 30% since last September, the latest Consumer Price Index from the Labor Department showed Thursday.
Expensive eggs and the limited supply are largely due to a nationwide bird flu outbreak, supply chain challenges, and high feed costs.
How much longer will we face these prices and shortages? It’s hard to say.
In its latest Chicken and Egg report, the USDA reported that egg production was down 2% year-over-year in August with an estimated 9.1 billion eggs being laid. The decline is largely due to the avian flu outbreak, which affected 36.75 million egg-laying birds.
There is hope though: Nelson notes 56 million egg-type chicks hatched in August, 13% more than in August 2021. The increase “is a good sign of rebuilding populations,” he explains.
“If HPAI outbreaks are less severe through the remainder of fall, and more egg-type chicks are available to become layers, this would mean a greater supply of table egg layers, and a greater supply of table eggs,” Nelson says. “A greater supply of table eggs would provide some relief to table egg prices at the grocery store.”
As of Thursday, the USDA Midwest regional egg price report shows a dozen eggs costs around $2.
Eggs are among the grocery items hardest hit by inflation. Others include items that are about to be in high demand for the holiday baking season, like butter and flour.
Thursday’s report showed inflation accelerating overall. The Consumer Price Index rose 0.4 percent for September after just 0.1% in August and is up 8.2% for the past 12 months. Rising inflation prompted a historic increase to Social Security benefits starting next year, but some argue it isn’t enough to keep up with the costs of everyday items, like groceries.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.