Bird flu is driving up the price of more than just eggs and poultry

Food costs in the U.S. are rising, however sticker shock at the grocery retailer is particularly acute in the egg and poultry aisles, as a extremely contagious avian flu decimates industrial poultry flocks throughout the U.S. 

Highly pathogenic avian influenza, or chook flu, is spreading throughout the U.S., forcing farmers to destroy almost 280 industrial and yard flocks in 32 states since January. 

“More than 28 million laying hens have been culled as a result of the bird flu — that’s nearly 9% of the total flock,” based on Karyn Rispoli, an egg market reporter at commodity analysis agency Urner Barry.

“When the outbreaks first started, the jump in wholesale values was being driven primarily by demand, as there was a bit of panic and short covering going on in the marketplace. But at this point, so much production has been removed from the landscape that it’s more of a supply-side issue,” Rispoli stated in an electronic mail. 

Carried by free-flying waterfowl — reminiscent of geese, geese and shorebirds, and infecting chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, home geese, geese and guinea fowl — the outbreaks are pushing up the price of two commodities which are day by day fixtures in the American weight loss plan. 

“The chicken and the egg really have a strong position in our daily consumption. The supply goes down and the price will go up,” Kathleen Liang, a professor of sustainable agriculture at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, advised CBS MoneyWatch. 

Cost of eggs on the rise as a result of inflation and lethal chook flu


Avian flu continues to unfold, particularly in flocks of egg-laying hens, economist Lee Schulz, an affiliate professor at Iowa State University wrote in a weblog post. When the flu hits, some birds die and others should be euthanized. That reduces the provide of eggs, a commodity for which there are few substitutes, he defined. 

The rapid end result: The wholesale price of processed “breaker” eggs almost tripled in May, whereas costs of wholesale eggs offered at the grocery retailer have jumped 85% to $2.20 a dozen in the Midwest, Schultz famous. The influence will ease over time as the business breeds more chickens, he added.

“Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) continue to impact the table egg industry, especially in the egg products sector where nearly three-fourths of the outbreaks have occurred,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture wrote final week in a report.

Nationally, the common price of Grade A big eggs final week was $1.66 a dozen, up 12% from the prior week and almost 73% from final year, based on the USDA.

Meantime, consumers are paying about 5% more for complete chickens than a year in the past, making poultry a relative discount given grocery costs total are 10% larger and the price of beef is up 16%, federal information shows

“The chicken and the eggs are just the beginning of the ripple effect,” Liang stated. “The downstream industries are the ones absorbing the higher costs.” 

Salad dressing, cake combine and chips

The price of processed eggs — utilized in liquid or powdered type in manufactured merchandise together with salad dressing, cake combine and chips — has additionally surged, including to inflationary pressures. 

Breaker eggs, that are offered in liquid type to wholesale bakeries and giant restaurant chains, have been on Tuesday priced at $2.58 a pound, based on Urner Barry. 

“That’s up from 86 cents a pound at the start of March, shortly after the first outbreak was confirmed,” famous Rispoli, who added that at the moment final year breaker egg costs ran at 49 cents a pound.

Back when the avian flu outbreak had affected 24 states and some 24 million industrial birds, solely eight circumstances had been confirmed in industrial broiler chickens. More than 60% of U.S. broiler manufacturing happens in six states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas. So far, just North Carolina and Texas have had outbreaks. 

“Sick birds will never make it to the market,” stated Liang of the potential for a big discount in provide, relying on whether or not the outbreaks are contained. “Demand is strong and supply is limited.” 

As avian influenza spreads, the turkey business has additionally been impacted, with manufacturing estimates for the year revised decrease by 150 million kilos, the USDA stated in an April analysis. Whole-hen frozen turkey costs have been reported at $1.31 a pound in the first quarter, up 19% from 2021. 

“With lower forecast production due to HPAI, prices are expected to continue to rise at a more rapid rate in 2022,” the company stated.

People ought to anticipate meals inflation to proceed this year and subsequent, based on BofA Securities analyst Alexander Lin, who expects meals costs to rise about 9% this year and one other 4% in 2023. 

Low well being threat to folks

In Colorado, a prisoner examined optimistic for avian flu after working at a industrial poultry farm as half of a pre-release employment program, the state stated Thursday. The solely different recognized human case was reported in the U.Ok. late final year, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The public well being threat associated to chook flu remains low, based on the CDC. Still, cooking all poultry and eggs to an inner temperature of 165 ˚F is suggested as a normal meals security rule.

The USDA is investigating a vaccine to battle the flu, which killed more than 50 million chickens and turkeys between 2014 and 2015 and prompted financial losses of $3.3 billion, the company estimates. 

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