Avian Flu Blamed for Surge in Egg Prices, but Is It Justified?
bird flubird"Eggflation" is the latest item to surge in price, hitting consumers' pocketbooks pretty hard. Avian bird flu is being blamed for the current hike in egg prices, but...is it actually justifiable, or is this being used as an excuse for a cash grab?
Why Are Eggs So Expensive?
The price of eggs right now is between 40% to 60% higher than it was a year ago according to the Bureau of Labor.
Orlandoweekly.com reports eggs are currently selling for almost $6.50 a dozen in Florida, and Hawaii residents are currently dealing with prices as hi as $9.73 a dozen.
In Louisiana, egg prices are certainly up considerably, but the cost can vary quite a bit depending on where you look.
From WGNO -
"Brookshire’s Grocery currently offers one dozen extra large eggs at $5.49. A dozen extra large eggs at Kroger is currently $3.99."
What's to blame for this?
A few factors are contributing to the rise in egg prices like the cost of feed and labor shortages, but the main contributing factor reported is avian bird flu.
Not just avian bird flu, but the worst case of avian bird flu ever reported according to the USDA.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports 58 million chickens have been infected with the avian bird flu since January 6, 2023.
Infected chickens must be euthanized, leading to a shortage of eggs and ultimately causing the price of eggs to surge.
Simple supply and demand.
However, some sources are questioning exactly what's going on and calling "fowl", claiming what we're experiencing is a cash grab by the farming industry.
Can Humans Catch Avian Bird Flu?
With so much caution being taken by farmers euthanizing 10s of millions of chickens to contain the spread of avian bird flu on farms, are the farmers themselves at risk of contracting it?
Are the chicken and egg-buying public at risk of contracting avian bird flu by consuming eggs or meat from infected chickens, or even chickens exposed to an infected bird?
The USDA has an entire section on its website addressing "Food Safety and Bird Influenza".
According to the USDA, humans cannot catch the avian bird flu.
"Poultry and eggs that are properly prepared and cooked are safe to eat. Proper food safety practices are important every day.
Avian influenza is not transmissible by eating properly prepared poultry, so properly prepared and cooked poultry and eggs are safe to eat."
Although the USDA's answer is pretty definitive. there have been cases, although considered rare, of humans contracting avian bird flu.
Understand that the probability is low for two reasons -
1. Properly prepared and cooked eggs and chicken.
2. The USDA's "highly pathogenic avian influenza response plan, infected birds do not enter the food supply."
Better safe than sorry, right?
Not so fast says one advocacy group.
The advocacy group Farm Action claim's that the explanations for the current rise in egg prices just don't add up.
From vice.com -
"Farm Action’s legal counsel Basel Musharbash alleges 'a collusive scheme among industry leaders to turn inflationary conditions and an avian flu outbreak into an opportunity to extract egregious profits reaching as high as 40 percent.'"
They go on to accuse the industry of "profiteering".
Farm Action isn't pointing the finger at our local, smaller egg and chicken farms, but is taking aim at the country’s largest egg distributor, Cal-Maine Foods.
Cal-Maine Foods produces a whopping 20 percent of the egg market.
The claim is that Cal-Maine Foods is using the avian bird flu as an excuse to goose prices, and they claim they've got the information to prove it.
You can read more about this over at vice.com.
Then, there are the smaller farmers from across the U.S. that are questioning the industry's methods of the mass euthanization of chickens.
In a recent video uploaded to the YouTube channel Acres Of Adventure Homestead, the channel's host talks about what he knows about chicken farms, and what he says is "the real reason egg prices are rising."