IONIA – Alex Courts noticed the price of eggs started to rise last fall.
Courts, the general manager of Ken’s Farm Market in Ionia, was not alarmed at the time, but that has changed.
“Once (prices) reach a certain point, which is really the highest we’ve ever seen – mid to late fall (2022) – that’s when I I’m like, ‘OK, this is a little out of the ordinary,’” Courts said.
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Following:Why is the price of eggs so high? And when will they come down?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index, the average price of a dozen Grade A eggs in the United States was $4.25 in December 2022, down from $1.79 $ in December 2021. This represents an increase of approximately 237%.
Why are the prices so high? It’s a mix between higher production costs and an outbreak of bird flu. The US Department of Agriculture reports that more than 43 million laying hens have died since the outbreak began in February 2022.
Nancy Barr, executive director of Michigan Allied Poultry Industries, said there are “many variables” affecting the price of eggs in Michigan. She said farmers don’t set the price – they sell their eggs in an open market, with prices changing daily.
“(Market impacts) include inflation, supply chain and employment costs, which impact everyone,” she said, adding that egg farmers Michigan are also very cost sensitive to fuel prices, which directly impacts the cost of feed and packaging. .
“On the other hand, eggs are still the cheapest protein Americans can buy, and budget-conscious consumers who see big beef spikes are choosing to buy eggs, which is increasing demand in grocery stores across the state.”
Barr said the health and welfare of birds entrusted to farmers is of the utmost importance.
“Bird flu killed more than 40 million laying hens in the United States in 2022, and although Michigan farmers avoided a large outbreak, our farmers continue to be vigilant with preventative biosecurity tactics,” said Barr. “These health and safety protocols are also contributing to the price increase.”
And then there’s the move to cage-free egg production, which is more expensive.
Ken’s Farm Market in Ionia feared that customers would be upset by higher prices. At one point, a big dozen eggs cost $5, Courts said.
“It really kept that going through late fall, through the holidays, and into the new year,” he said.
The company has found brands that offer better value, Courts said. They also explored the cage-free egg market, announcing the week of January 9 that large cage-free eggs were available for $3.99 per dozen.
“It’s been really good for us, it’s been (good) for our customers and it’s given us some value,” Courts said.
But some Michigan residents are tired of waiting for prices to drop. Jamestown Township resident Patricia Kraus told WOOD TV-8 she received an influx of requests for eggs after she started raising her own chickens last year.
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Kraus told the station that she usually sells eggs for $7 to $8 a dozen, but said the product was of high quality.
“Farm fresh eggs are… they’re better and honestly they should be more expensive than the ones you find in the store because we know what we’re feeding our chickens; we know they’re taken care of,” Kraus said.
At least one municipality is considering changing its ordinance to allow residents to keep food-producing pets, including chickens and bees. The city of Zeeland in Ottawa County began exploring change after seeing an increase in demand in response to the pandemic and rising prices.
It is unclear when egg prices will return to normal, but there has been a decline since the start of 2023.
“I think there’s hope that things will go downhill from here,” Courts said.
— Contact journalist Evan Sasiela at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SalsaEvan.