Consumers could see a seasonal spike in egg prices as demand increases for baking and dying associated with the Easter holiday, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert Dr. Craig Coufal.
Coufal, an AgriLife Extension poultry specialist in College Station, Texas, said other factors such as feed prices and flock numbers remain stable, so any increases will be based simply on supply and demand.
“Price increases are a seasonal pattern, because we can’t just make chickens lay more or less eggs,” Coufal said. “This time of year, we’ll typically see two to three weeks of decreased egg stocks because egg consumption goes up for all the baking and dying for Easter egg hunts.”
Coufal said egg production has stabilized following a few years of chaotic pricing in response to a major avian influenza outbreak that affected laying hens in 2015. Production levels took a few years to normalize as flock sizes recovered and then fluctuated as the market corrected.
Prices in the U.S. were 21 cents lower, on average, from January 2018 to January 2019 -- at $1.55/doz. compared to $1.76/doz., according to the Egg Industry Center. Prices did rise from $1.75/doz. in February 2018 to $2.08/doz. in April 2018. However, prices have steadily decreased from there.
Average prices for a dozen eggs approached $3 in mid-2015, by comparison, following the avian flu outbreak, before seeing a rapid decline in early 2016.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) reported that wholesale egg prices stabilized in the past several weeks, and retailers are setting attractive prices on eggs for Easter promotions. Retail egg featuring by grocers reflects a sharp increase in activity for those promotions.
“The average advertised price drops sharply as retailers pull out all the stops to maximize product movement,” according to the AMS market analysis. “Easter is now less than a week away, and product is clearing into channels at a brisk pace.”
Coufal said U.S. egg consumption continues to increase along with consumer trends and population growth.
“Health and medical reports have settled that eggs aren’t bad for you,” he said. “The industry ratio comes out to one laying hen per person in the U.S., and that number is similar globally. That covers the eggs people eat for breakfast and all the baked goods we produce. When you think about most recipes, they have eggs, so they are an important commodity within our food system.”
Still, USDA said while demand is expected to rise toward Easter, shell egg disappearance during the holiday season is estimated to be five eggs per household (two eggs per capita), which is down 2.5 eggs from 2018, when Easter fell three weeks earlier. This indicates that supply is exceeding demand this holiday season, USDA noted.