The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak is causing a short supply of eggs, leading to higher prices for consumers. According to American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Bernt Nelson, the key factor is inventory of laying hens.
“Avian influenza has really affected now just over 58 million birds since it began about a year ago in February of 2022. Egg prices have skyrocketed recently with the national averages up right around 49 percent from last year. So, consumers have been paying, in some cases, nearly double what they had in past years. So, what’s causing the rise in egg prices? Really, the decreased layer inventory due to avian influenza, that’s the primary factor.”
And egg demand is projected to increase seven percent this year. So, to lower egg prices, Nelson says supplies would need to move higher.
“What would have to happen for a slowdown in prices to occur would be a slowdown in the outbreaks of avian influenza. So, what we’ll really be watching for is a slowdown in avian influenza going into the spring months so that the inventory has some time to rebuild. That would be most helpful in keeping prices down.”
For poultry farmers, Nelson says they are also facing increased production costs.
“These outbreaks have been devastating. When we talk about an outbreak occurring on a farm where you’re faced with the risk of depopulation, that combined with the effects of increased input costs, and that really increases breakeven prices, especially when we think about covering our cost of production.”