INDIANAPOLIS — A dozen eggs at the grocery store is getting more expensive and experts say there are a few reasons for that – avian influenza being one of them.
This week, shell egg prices are nearing $3 a dozen. According to the USDA Egg Market News Report released on April 4, a dozen large eggs cost between $2.80 and $2.89 when delivered to warehouses.
Right now, the United States is experiencing the worst avian influenza outbreak since 2015.
At least 24 states are seeing the virus and millions of birds have been killed.
Indiana is the second-largest producer of eggs in the country, producing 9 billion eggs a year, according to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health. This year, the state reported the first avian flu cases in the country.
A spokesperson with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health tells WRTV, the six original farms impacted in Dubois and Greene Counties remain under quarantine.
The agency’s main concern right now is the outbreak of the virus in other Midwestern states including Iowa and Minnesota.
“That's why we're cautiously optimistic," Denise Derrer Spears, Public Information Officer with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health said. "I mean, we're really pleased with the hard work that the Indiana poultry producers have been doing -- we've made a lot of progress and we haven't had any new cases. However, we realize that could change at any time, and we still want poultry owners, whether they're commercial-sized or backyard flock owners to make sure that they stay diligent about bio-security,”
Economists say inflation paired with the bird flu outbreak is the reason behind the jump in egg prices. Ahead of spring holidays like Easter and Passover, the cost of eggs generally ticks up, but Ball State economist Dr. Michael Hicks notes, not this drastically.
“Over the past couple of weeks, the real impact has been the avian flu," Hicks said. "That has caused the destruction of significant flocks around the country, so that's caused prices nationally to go from about $1.40 a dozen to almost doubling prices in just a matter of a couple of weeks."
So when will egg prices start to plateau or drop?
Hicks said in the short term, it's dependent on the pathway of the disease. If farmers can get the bird flu under control, a recovery in prices would be seen in a few weeks. However, he notes, inflation is here to stay.