Bird flu, rising costs send egg prices skyrocketing
Anyone who buys a dozen eggs these days must be prepared to pay for them because the ongoing bird flu outbreak, combined with rising feed, fuel and labor costs, has meant prices have more than doubled in the past year . (January 10) (AP Video: Teresa Crawford, Carrie Antlfinger)
Viral Facebook posts: The cost of eggs has increased by 700%.
PolitiFact verdict: Mostly wrong
Here’s why: For many Americans, buying eggs has felt like an expensive Easter egg hunt lately.
Avian flu outbreaks have strained the supply of eggs across the country, driving up prices at a time when demand for the product and inflation remain high.
The latest update from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released Jan. 12, shows that food inflation was once again higher than headline inflation last year. Eggs took the top spot with the largest price increase of any single food item from December 2021 to December 2022.
But some social media posts exaggerate how expensive eggs have become.
“The government says food inflation is at 7%,” read a photo in a Jan. 12 Facebook post. “Ask them how is that possible when eggs are up 700% and everything I buy is up OVER 7%.”
This post has been flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat hoaxes and misinformation in its news feed.
The Consumer Price Index, which measures changes in retail prices of goods and services, shows that inflation in December 2022 rose by 6.5% year-on-year before seasonal adjustment. Grocery costs increased at a faster rate of 10.4% over the same period.
Egg prices have increased significantly at a rate of 60% over the past year. In December 2022, the average price for a dozen eggs in the US was $4.25, up from $1.79 a year earlier, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
One of the factors affecting egg prices is the ongoing avian flu epidemic in the US. By the end of December, the Department of Agriculture said 43 million laying hens had died due to the disease or depopulation since the outbreak began in February 2022.
Lower-than-usual egg stocks towards the end of the year, when demand rises from holiday baking, led to several consecutive weeks of record-high egg prices, the department said. Costs are expected to come down in the coming weeks as egg-laying flocks recover.
Other foodstuffs also recorded strong price increases in the past year. Margarine costs rose 44% and butter prices rose 31%.
On the other hand, prices for meats such as beef and veal fell by 3%.
A Facebook post claimed the cost of eggs has increased by 700%.
Prices have gone up, but not that much. The consumer price index shows that egg prices have risen by 60% over the past year, while overall food inflation has risen by 10.4%.
We classify this assertion as largely false.
- Facebook post, January 12, 2023
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index, January 12, 2023
- Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, “Average Price: Eggs, Grade A, Large (Cost per Dozen) in US City Average,” January 12, 2023
- US Department of Agriculture, “Avian Flu Outbreaks Reduced Egg Production and Driven Prices to Record Highs in 2022,” January 11, 2023
- CBS News, “Egg prices are up 60% in one year. Here’s why,” January 12, 2023
- The New York Times, Can You Find Eggs Here or There? Can You Find Them Anywhere?”, January 12, 2023