A few months ago the wholesale price of a dozen eggs had doubled, reaching a record high, only to start a sharp decline that has been dubbed by some as a “deflationary egg crisis.” But state officials say they are not concerned that egg prices are dropping too quickly.
Wholesale egg prices reached $3.49 per dozen March 21 before starting a decline that hit $2.24 per dozen April 10, one of the lowest levels since the first reported outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in the spring of 2022, according to the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook issued in April by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
State Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt said there is a “cyclical nature” to prices and production.
Typically, egg prices rise as demand for them increases during the winter holidays and Easter as people are baking more as part of their holiday meals and celebrations, Hurlburt said. Now, he said, the country is in a post-holiday market so demand for eggs has decreased.
As noted in the USDA’s outlook report, egg prices are at their lowest since the HPAI outbreak.
“One complication this year with the supply component is that we had the worst outbreak of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza over the course of the last year, which is one of the reasons the prices of eggs increased in 2022,” Hurlburt said.
Because of the outbreak, egg inventories nationwide were nearly 30% lower in the last week of December 2022 than they were at the beginning of the year, the USDA reported. More than 43 million egg-laying hens were lost to either the disease, or from being destroyed in an effort to contain the outbreak.
But the current climate is good for the consumer, Hurlburt added. With 5 million eggs produced a day in Connecticut, if there was any concern, officials likely would have heard, Hurlburt said.
While egg prices are now low, they are still higher than before the avian flu outbreak, according to Steven Lanza, an economist and professor at the University of Connecticut.
According to the most recent Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures the change in prices paid by consumers for goods and services, the index for food at home fell 0.2% over the month while the index for food away from home – restaurants, etc. – rose 0.4%.
According to the CPI released last week by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, four of the six major grocery store food group indexes decreased over the month.
“The index for fruits and vegetables decreased 0.5% in April, and the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs declined 0.3% over the month. The dairy and related products index decreased 0.7% in April as the milk index fell 2.0%, the largest decline in that index since February 2015. The nonalcoholic beverages index declined 0.1% over the month,” according to the index.
Lanza said hopefully everything – at least when it comes to egg prices – will be back to business as usual pretty soon.
Right now, agriculture in Connecticut is about to start seeing the opening of various farmers markets across the state.