Bird flu hikes up the egg prices

Published 9:12 am Thursday, April 7, 2022

Mississippians buying eggs for day-to-day consumption or for Easter decorations will find that the food staple is pricier than usual.

A Mississippi company that produces eggs in more than a dozen states says it has seen a significant impact on prices since the outbreak of bird flu. The avian influenza virus is having a significant impact on egg prices.

“Eggs seem to be going through the roof right now,” said Brent Larson, co-owner of Larson’s CahsSaver. “It’s across the board. Everyone is seeing an increase in price.” 

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Even CashSaver, a family-owned grocery store, known for its low prices cannot escape the one-two punch of the bird flu and inflation. 

Larson said many factors have come together to egg on the rising prices from the bird flu to supply-chain issues to gas prices. 

“There are so many factors contributing to inflation,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Egg prices have jumped about $2 over the past three weeks compared to the same time last year, said Max Bowman, chief financial officer and vice president of Jackson-based Cal Maine Foods Inc. Buying a dozen, Grade A large eggs at Larson’s could cost the average shopper from $3.76 to $4.13 per carton. Brands selling organic eggs could cost upwards of $4.50.

“There have been about 18 million birds affected by the flu U.S.-wide,” said Bowman. “That’s about 6% roughly of the national flock. That’s enough disruption, particularly here at a high season like Easter … that [it] begins to change the economics of our market.”

Across the U.S., farmers have had to kill about 22 million birds due to bird flu. Because the virus is so infectious and deadly for commercial poultry, entire flocks are destroyed and composted on the farms when they are infected which also raises the price of chicken.

The cases in birds do not present an immediate public health concern, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to inflation, grocery stores are still out on staple products like Pillsbury biscuits, canned pet food or certain meats. Despite the continued battering grocery stores are getting from pandemic-related issues and inflation, the Larsons are committed to servicing their customers and all their needs.

“We’ve switched our supplier on frozen food and dairy to a smaller warehouse,” said Larson. “That’s worked to a certain point to mitigate our supply issues and, otherwise, we’re just doing the best we can.”