Egg prices finally fell in February, but will they stay that way?
(NEXSTAR) – After months of inflation, eggs have suddenly gotten a little cheaper – but don’t expect them to stay that way.
The cost of eggs in the United States has skyrocketed since last fall, but inflation data shows the average price fell 7% in February.
Suddenly, the average price of a dozen large white Grade A eggs jumped from $4.82 in January to $4.21 in February.
“It’s partly because we’re past peak demand,” said Rodney Holcomb, a professor of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University.
Holcomb was referring to the traditional peak season towards the end of the year, when holiday-related cooking causes demand to spike. For months, the supply was further stretched by bird flu, which led to the culling of more than 58 million birds in an effort to contain the virus, according to the Associated Press.
“You have an insufficient supply, largely due to the bird flu and the impact it has had on our herds. Then we saw prices skyrocket more than they had in several years,” Holcomb said.
February’s drop may be partly attributable to farmers finally replenishing their supply of laying hens, which he says takes time, unlike broiler chickens for consumption, which are ready in about two months .
“It’s going to be six months before she becomes a really, extremely productive egg-producing hen day in and day out,” Holcomb said. “We lost so many in the fall that it took us a while, in January and February, just to start rebuilding our supply of chickens.”
Easter is coming, will prices stay low?
If you’re planning a big Easter egg hunt, be prepared for a potentially expensive grocery bill.
“I think we’re going to see prices go back up,” Holcomb said. “There was a lot of concern about what might happen with the price of eggs. If you look at data from the USDA Economic Research Service, of all their forecasts – food price changes and different categories for 2023 – the egg is by far the highest and most variable in terms of change.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, egg prices are expected to increase by 37.8% in 2023, but the forecast range extends from 18.3 to 62.3%.
On Tuesday, Dollar Tree reportedly announced it would stop selling eggs altogether, citing inflated prices. In March 2022, the average cost of a dozen eggs was $2.05. A year earlier, that figure was $1.63.
Holcomb said this year some people might see the sale price and end up settling for a dozen eggs, instead of two or three dozen like in previous years.
“All of a sudden these plastic eggs, just by filling them with candy and prizes, they start to look a lot better,” Holcomb said. “And if you want to boil colored eggs, hang in there, because you might as well eat them. They are worth the investment.
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