ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Egg prices remain high, concerning producers, consumers and businesses. According to Jada Thompson, an assistant professor of agricultural economics at the University of Arkansas, there’s been a large spike in the cost of a carton of eggs year-over-year.
“In November, the national average was $3.59, and that’s up from about $1.72 in 2021. So, you’re looking at about 108% increase year-over-year,” Thompson said.
There are a few reasons for the price spike. According to Thompson, one of the biggest factors is the avian flu.
Around 50 million birds have died as a result of the virus, with around 56,000 of those in Arkansas. The combination of the decline in poultry numbers and producers working to avoid mass infestation, a large population of birds were not laying eggs.
“5% of our suppliers of layers were affected by HPAI. So, it’s about 43 million birds that were out of the system, which means they’re not laying eggs,” said Thompson.
There are other factors impacting the egg prices such as high feed prices from the war in Ukraine, transportation issues and inflation.
“What we saw was all of them kind of coming together at this high seasonal demand with a lower supply, and what we saw was high prices in the marketplace,” said Thompson.
With eggs being a prevalent, low-cost source of protein, a lot of people are impacted. Despite the bad news, Thompson said there could be some good news in the near future.
According to Thompson, prices could start going down as seasonal demand goes down. As the producers start replenishing product, Arkansas could see prices dropping soon.
“I definitely think within the next month we’re going to see a pretty drastic decrease in those prices. The only counter to that is the HPAI is still here,” said Thompson.
Rick Boone, the owner of Rick’s Bakery, says his store goes through 40 to 50 cases of eggs a week. Those high egg prices impact revenue.
“My egg prices were about $320 a week for this store. Now, we’ve gone up to over $1,600 a week,” said Boone.
Patrick Fisk, the director of the Livestock and Poultry Division at the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, said he’s proud of how well poultry producers have responded to the avian flu. However, to avoid widespread outbreaks as the virus continues to spread, producers need to remain vigilant.
The main tip from Fisk is to make sure you don’t bring the virus into your farm. If you go to a location and are around unknown poultry, you should make sure you’re keeping biosecurity in mind.
If you have backyard birds, Fisk said it’s a good idea to cover the birds with a roof or tarp to keep out wild birds. If your birds are acting unusual, you should contact the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.
The department takes sick bird calls every day, and they perform testing to make sure if the birds do have the flu, it doesn’t spread.
“It’s unfortunate. We do have to put your birds down, but that’s just for the safety of the industry as a whole. Coupled with all that and communication, I think we could be able to get out of this in late summer,” said Fisk.