The end of the butter shortage — and why Americans are buying more live chickens

Carton of eggs.
Carton of eggs. | Zoë Petersen, Deseret News

If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, you probably know that egg prices are significantly higher than what they were at the start of thee last year.

In short, a historic epidemic of the avian flu, inflation and higher cost of supplies to feed chickens have contributed to these expensive prices. Prices have eased up, per the Deseret News, but experts are predicting another bout of the avian flu.


When chickens get infected with the avian flu, farmers have to kill all the chickens in close contact with the diseased bird, per NBC News. This is how they prevent further spread of the disease. Practically speaking, this means there are fewer chickens to lay eggs, which contributes to prices rising.

This has led to an uptick in Americans buying live chickens, per Fortune. While live chickens require a lot of work, some Americans are looking at the prices of meat and eggs and deciding that it makes more sense to own chickens than it does to pay for expensive meat and egg prices.

As egg prices remain high, chicken prices are a different story. The USDA National Retail Report on chicken shows that the sticker price of chicken breasts and whole chickens has stabilized and is in a price range that is closer to 2021 when one analyzes prices over time. Even though chicken prices had a significant jump in 2022, they seem to have stabilized for now.

Keep in mind there are typically different flocks for chicken meat versus eggs, so that’s one of the reasons egg prices have remained high while chicken prices have lowered compared to their jump last year.

There are some foods that will likely remain expensive this year. According to Eat This, Not That, the list include eggs, beef, lettuce, canned goods, bread, orange juice and corn. Orange prices rose due to a disease that impacts citrus, but the others are affected by the war in Ukraine, inflation and extreme weather events. So even when you see other prices fall at the grocery stores, these foods might remain a little high.

Whatever happened to the butter shortage?

Last year’s butter shortage seems to have figured itself out — for now.


Ironically, the butter shortage came at a time when butter boards started trending on TikTok. Butter boards aren’t for the faint of heart — they are basically a charcuterie board with butter smeared on it instead of delightful meats and cheeses, and then you scoop up the butter with warm bread. This butter shortage was expected to put a dent in holiday baking and led to higher butter prices.

While butter prices are still high, there hasn’t been recent news of a shortage.