Broken eggs: Eggflation shows no sign of cracking

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(Not) cheaper by the dozen

If you’re lucky enough to manage to find eggs in your local supermarket you'll notice they’re not quite as cheap as they used to be. Prices across all egg types are up 79% since Jan 2020, compared to 21% for all food and beverages in the same period. Indeed, across US cities, a dozen large Grade A eggs will now typically set you back over $4, more than double the $1.90 average from last Jan.

Flu season

A record-breaking avian flu outbreak, which has killed 58 million birds, is primarily responsible for the supply shortages, making our editor’s four-egg omelet a borderline luxury. The high death toll is in part because the FDA doesn’t take any chances. If one bird in a flock is infected then all remaining birds are also typically culled. Last time we saw eggflation close to this level was back in 1984 — avian flu was again the culprit.

Egg cartels

Some have blamed old-fashioned greed for the rises in prices, with one major farm group accusing suppliers of colluding, pointing to the uniformity of price rises as evidence that eggflation isn't just down to natural causes.

The soaring prices in the US have caught the attention of egg-arbitrageurs looking to buy eggs in Mexico and sell them in the US. In fact, US border officials have seen a 108% spike in egg smuggling busts, which come with a fine of up to $10,000.

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