(NEXSTAR) — After months of inflation, eggs suddenly got a little cheaper — but don’t expect them to stay that way.
The price of eggs in the US has risen sharply since last fall, but inflation data shows that the average price fell 7% in February.
Suddenly, the average price of a dozen large, white class A eggs dropped from $4.82 in January to $4.21 in February.
“That’s partly because we’re past peak demand,” said Rodney Holcomb, an agricultural economics professor at Oklahoma State University.
Holcomb was referring to the traditional peak season towards the end of the year, when holiday-related cooking creates a spike in demand. For months, supply has come under further pressure from avian flu, which has led to the slaughter of more than 58 million birds in an effort to contain the virus, according to the Associated Press.
“You are short on supplies, largely because of bird flu and the impact it had on our herds. Then we just saw prices skyrocket more than they have in years,” Holcomb said.
The dip in February may be partly due to farmers finally rebuilding their supply of egg-laying hens, which he says takes time, unlike broilers meant to eat, which are ready in about two months.
“It’ll be six months before she’s really an extremely productive day-in, day-out egg-producing chicken,” Holcomb said. “We lost so many in the fall that it took a while, until January and February, to rebuild our stock of chickens.”
Easter is coming, will prices stay low?
If you’re planning on a massive Easter egg hunt, brace yourself for a potentially expensive grocery bill.
“I think we’ll see prices rise again,” Holcomb said. “There has been a lot of concern about what could happen to egg prices. If you look at the data from the USDA Economic Research Service, of all their forecasts – changes in food prices and different categories for 2023 – egg is by far the highest and the most variable in terms of change.”
Egg prices are predicted to rise 37.8% in 2023, according to the US Department of Agriculture, but the range of the predictions ranges from 18.3 to 62.3%.
On Tuesday, Dollar Tree reportedly announced it would stop selling eggs altogether, citing high prices. In March 2022, the average cost of a dozen eggs was $2.05. A year earlier, that number was $1.63.
Holcomb said some people may see the retail price this year and end up with just a dozen eggs, instead of two or three dozen as in years past.
“Suddenly those plastic eggs, just filling them with candy and prizes, start looking a lot better,” Holcomb said. “And if you’re going to boil some eggs in color, hold onto them because you might as well eat them.” They are worth the investment.”
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