2024 US egg prices not expected to reach highs seen in 2023

After multiple producers suffered avian influenza outbreaks in the first quarter of 2024, egg prices could increase.

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While U.S. egg prices are expected to be slightly inflated in 2024, they are not expected to grow to the high that was seen in 2023.

The main reason egg prices are increasing again is because highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks occurred on five U.S. egg farms this year as of April 24th, 2024, causing approximately 9.5 million layers to be depopulated, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Why egg prices won’t inflate to 2023’s highs

University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Agricultural economist Jada Thompson said there are two reasons that egg prices will not skyrocket to the same levels again.

“One, we haven’t had the consistent barrage against the egg industry in the same way, which means that one large complex, like this event, may cause some regional price changes but won’t compound the overall price situation.”

Thompson was referencing the Cal-Maine Foods’, the largest egg producer in the U.S., Texas farm outbreak in April 2024.

“Two, the replenishment stocks aren’t as impacted as before,” she stated. “Before, we had outbreaks on egg premises and on pullet and parent stock premises, meaning the birds that would replace the ones that got sick were also in short supply. That isn’t the same shortage as before, so the impact won’t take as long to recover — hopefully.”

Additionally, Thompson believes that egg producers have taken actions to prevent a repeat of 2023. Because egg prices are based on current supply, she explained, the industry has worked to increase the number of birds in stock and likely are trying to compensate for future outbreaks.

“While you can’t predict a million-bird complex becoming infected, more replenishment stocks and a general wariness leads to substantial preparations and that is helpful for business continuity and market consistency,” she added.

However, currently, Thompson said, it is too soon in the year to tell how high egg prices will get.

Egg prices in in the beginning of 2023 saw historical highs and peaked at almost US$5 per dozen for conventionally raised eggs. By the fourth quarter of 2023, prices returned to approximately US$2 per dozen as producers recovered and replaced their flocks. 

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