Egg prices decline as flocks rebuild, bird flu’s impact wanes, analyst says

Written by on May 26, 2023

Dive Brief:

  • The price of a dozen large eggs at the wholesale level has fallen to $0.84, a decline from its peak of more than $5, according to USDA’s most recent egg market report. The speed of this decline came as a bit of a surprise to industry analysts, said Kevin Bergquist, Wells Fargo’s Agri-Food Institute sector manager, in an emailed statement to Food Dive.
  • As egg producers have focused on rebuilding their flocks during the past six months after culling 59 million birds last year due to the bird flu outbreak, there are now more eggs available on the market, according to Bergquist. Consumers are still buying the popular ingredient, he said, but the year-to-date volume of egg sales is tracking lower than in 2022, based on Nielsen grocer data.
  • The egg market has recovered from a low supply and skyrocketing prices in late 2022 and early this year. Current trends paint a more positive picture for the sector in 2023.

Dive Insight:

Falling egg prices are being driven by a few different factors, according to Bergquist. The post-Easter period typically sees a decline, he said. At the same time, the replacement of egg-laying hens after a major culling is stabilizing. Producers lost roughly 15 to 20% of their yearly supply of hens in 2022.

“The recent rapid decline in egg prices has likely been a bit of a surprise when looking at how far and how fast egg prices have dropped for producers in the last several weeks,” Bergquist said.

The analyst pointed to the USDA’s April projection that egg prices will see a 33% year-over-year decrease in 2023 after the department previously projected only a 24.9% yearly decrease versus the same time a year earlier.

While producers are paying less, the recovery is not yet fully reflected in grocery prices. In the most recent Consumer Price Index report, egg prices decreased 1.5% in April but remained 21.4% higher compared to the same period in 2022. Bergquist said grocery prices will start to reflect the decline in production costs in the coming weeks, and consumer data could show higher sales of eggs as a result.

Producers and consumers may not have to worry about bird flu driving up egg prices in the near future.

Bergquist does not foresee bird flu impacting egg prices this summer, based on the decline of the virus. He said the industry’s outlook for the illness — at least in the near term — is positive, as there have not been any cases among egg-laying flocks in 2023, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Six commercial turkey flocks were infected between February and April 2023, the CDC said.

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