Will egg prices continue to soar? - East Idaho News

Will egg prices continue to soar?

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Egg prices increased 49% last year, according to the Consumer Price Index. Chanel Tewalt, deputy director of the Idaho State Dept. of Agriculture, says it’s likely to continue. Watch our interview with her in the video above. | Stock image

IDAHO FALLS – Anyone who’s been to the grocery store lately knows that egg prices are skyrocketing.

From January through December 2022, the cost of eggs increased by 49%, according to the consumer price index. And government data shows the average price for a dozen eggs hit $3.59 in November, up from $1.72 a year earlier.

There are multiple reasons for the increasing prices. The primary factor is a deadly bird flu called High Pathogen Avian Influenza, which was detected in almost every state in 2022.

“This disease has struck the United States in a way that we haven’t seen before,” Chanel Tewalt, deputy director of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, tells EastIdahoNews.com.

As a result, millions of bird populations were culled nationwide, leading to shortages of eggs and chicken. In December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported 60 million birds had died from the disease since February when the outbreak began. Of those, about 43 million were egg-laying hens.

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Historically, the disease has been seasonal. The last major bird flu outbreak in the U.S. was in 2015, but it was contained by June. Tewalt says it’s not a seasonal illness this time around, and she anticipates it sticking around for the forseeable future, which will continue to impact the price of eggs.

“The thing that is causing disease transmission are wild birds. That is extremely hard to control with birds that are going to be on the move constantly,” she says.

Inflation and rising fuel costs are also playing a role in egg prices.

“Farmers work under really tight margins under the best of circumstances. If you start increasing fuel costs … you’re definitely going to see an increased pinch on the food dollar,” says Tewalt.

The ISDA is working with producers throughout the state to enhance biosecurity measures to help limit the spread of disease in their bird flocks.

Egg prices tend to go up during the holiday season in a typical year due to the uptick in cooking and baking. Now that the holidays are over, demand for eggs will go down slightly, which may also lower costs.

But Tewalt says disease conditions are going to persist, and we’ll continue to see an impact as a result.

On a positive note, Tewalt says increased engagement with poultry farmers in Idaho has increased awareness about what they can do to protect their own flocks. Tewalt hopes it “translates to a healthy poultry industry” in the Gem State.

“Agriculture is a tough industry, but people are incredibly resilient. We’ve been through hard times before. We might see some pain at the grocery store, but I’m sure things will pick up,” says Tewalt.