Inflation watch: The chicken and the egg price saga continues

Egg prices are going up again and chicken prices are rising as well - Image by ConsumerAffairs

We list the grocery chains with the best and worst egg prices

It doesn’t matter which came first – the chicken or the egg – because they’re both causing price problems for consumers. The bird flu is still impacting things, but there are several new factors that are making matters worse. 

The update on the bird flu (H5N1) situation is that, as of June 3, 2024, the USDA reported virus detections on 69 dairy cattle operations in nine states: Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas. 

But there’s also some good news in regards to the flu. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently announced that in a beef muscle sampling of cull dairy cows, only one out of 109 cows tested positive for the virus and it was removed from the food supply process chain.

Now comes a new wrinkle. In a recent fire in Illinois, more than a million chickens perished. 

All that puts pressure on the poultry market, but especially on the egg market. Because of the bird flu's impact on laying hens, egg prices have soared as egg production has hit an eight-year low.

In an analysis of the situation, UrnerBarry researchers said that over the past two weeks, U.S. shell egg prices have soared by 45% and consumers are showing an unexpectedly strong appetite for eggs, despite what’s going on with inflation. 

“Eggs offer a strong value proposition compared to competing proteins and other breakfast items, making them an attractive choice for budget-conscious shoppers,” the researchers said. “According to the latest Consumer Price Index from the U.S. Department of Labor, the overall cost of food at home increased by 1.1% in the year through April. Eggs, by contrast, saw a marked decline, dropping by 9.0%.

"At the same time, food service demand is experiencing a strong seasonal boost, with the unofficial start of the summer travel season now underway.”

That will probably roll downhill, too, as summertime brings out an added appetite for things like chicken salad, egg salad, and deviled eggs.

The states getting hit the hardest

ConsumerAffairs took a look at Datasembly’s Grocery Price Index and found that there are five states where grocery shoppers should walk on, ahem, eggshells:

Top state increases in all eggs for the last six months

16.9%: Michigan

15.8%: Minnesota

14.6%: Wisconsin

14.6%: Tennessee

13.8%: Ohio

Where eggs are – and aren’t – a bargain

If eggs are a family staple and cost is a factor, researchers at The Sun found that there are two places to go and two places to stay away from.

They consider Kroger as being the best option for most compared to other popular retailers. Kroger's 12-count of large white eggs is only $2.09 – nearly 80 cents below the nationwide average. 

Next would be Walmart, where its Great Value brand eggs have the second best price at $2.48.

The two places you should avoid? Trader Joe's – where its Pasture-Raised Large Brown Eggs are $4.79; and Whole Foods, home of a dozen Pasture-Raised Brown Eggs going for $4.99.

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