This Is Why Eggs Are So Expensive Right Now

A carton of eggs is going for $7.37 in California right now.

<p>Hadel Productions / Getty Images</p>

Hadel Productions / Getty Images

You may have noticed that many kitchen staples have increased in price, including butter, breakfast cereals, and snack foods. However, those increases pale in comparison to that of eggs.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s January Consumer Price Index, the cost of a dozen eggs has increased 59.9% year-over-year, and the price jumped 11.1% from November to December alone.

The average price for a dozen eggs was $4.25 in December, compared to $3.59 in November and $1.79 in December 2021. But eggs can be even pricier in certain parts of the country; in California, for example, one measly carton can cost an eye-watering $7.37. 

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Steve Reed, an economist at the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, told Yahoo Finance, eggs almost single-handedly contributed to higher household grocery bills in December. "If you sort of removed eggs, if you took eggs out of [the 'food at home' category], it would have been virtually flat,” he said. “Eggs were over 90% of that [cost] increase.” 

There are a number of factors that have combined to make eggs more expensive — the biggest being the ongoing bird flu epidemic. In a recent release, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that almost 58 million birds in 46 states have been infected with the disease. Any infected bird — and most of them are chickens and turkeys — must be slaughtered, and that has affected the available egg supply. Due to this outbreak, the total number of egg-laying hens has decreased by 5%. 

In an interview with The New York Times, Emily Metz, the president and chief executive of the American Egg Board, said that bird flu wasn’t the only reason that eggs are more expensive. “Is avian flu a factor? Yes,” Metz said. “Is it the only factor? No, and I would argue it’s not even the biggest factor in where these prices are right now.”

Metz added that the increasing costs of fuel, chicken feed, and even egg packaging were also contributing to higher prices. Regardless of the reasons, restaurant owners are also struggling to deal with the sticker shock that comes with every egg order. David Stone, the owner of The Waveland Cafe in Des Moines, Iowa, said that the cost of his weekly supply of eggs has jumped from $750 to $2,500. “Unfortunately, in our industry, the breakfast portion of our menu probably is between 70% and 75% of everything we serve,” Stone told the Des Moines Register. “And that’s basically all eggs,”

And the owners of Denver’s Noisette restaurant say that, for now, they’re trying to cover the costs without increasing their menu prices. “This just kind of came as a shock a week and a half ago when we saw prices increase that much,” Lillian Cho, one of the co-owners, admitted to the Denver Post. “I’m not sure how much consumers know what’s going on, so it’s difficult for us to raise prices because we’re already perceived as an expensive restaurant, and if we raise prices, it could deter guests from coming in and trying our food.”