Worst bird flu outbreak in U.S. history drives egg prices to record highs
Bird flu has killed about 58 million poultry birds in the United States this year, including more than 40 million laying hens.
The United States, struggling with inflation, is facing the worst bird flu epidemic in history, killing tens of millions of chickens and turkeys, and further causing the price of eggs in the United States to hit a record high.
Wholesale prices for large eggs in the U.S. Midwest rose to a record $5.36 a dozen in December,according to new data from research firm Urner Barry .
Separately, the retail price of eggs has risen more than anything else sold in supermarkets so far this year, according to data provider Information Resources. Egg prices have risen 30% year-on-year through early December this year, outpacing food and drink prices.
According to recent data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, bird flu has killed about 58 million birds in the United States this year, making it the deadliest bird flu epidemic in U.S. history. Once an infection is confirmed, the entire flock is culled to limit the spread of the disease.
Specifically, more than 40 million laying hens have died, and the total supply of laying hens fell by more than 5% to about 308 million through December this year.
In addition, rising labor, raw material and logistics costs this year have also boosted food prices such as eggs.
For supermarkets, eggs are the main product most consumers buy, similar to milk and butter. To maintain footfall, supermarkets say they have been forced to forego some of their egg profits. Some suppliers expect prices may ease back by February or March next year, but cold weather may hamper production in the short term.
Emily Metz, chief executive of the American Egg Council, said that the current supply of eggs is tight, prices are high, and the shortage situation will not be improved for a long time. However, compared with the 2015 U.S. bird flu pandemic, the supply of eggs has been more stable this year, and the time it takes for farms to resume normal operations has been shortened from nine months to about six months, she said.