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Why are egg prices so high right now?

Egg prices have nearly doubled in the last year. When will shoppers see relief at the grocery store?

Eggs used to be a given at the grocery store. Not only could you find them, but you could also afford them. These days, however, it’s a different story. At the beginning of the year, stores across the country were struggling to keep shelves stocked and consumers were pinching pennies while trying to justify spending as much as $7 on a dozen large eggs. Two months later, the USDA is reporting shoppers are still “finding few price breaks.” While demand has slowed slightly since January, Easter is just a few weeks away, and eggs will soon be at the top of many shopping lists.

Here’s what you need to know about “egg-flation” whether you’re buying eggs for dinner, decor or both.


While it would be easy to blame inflation for the serious surge in price, it’s not that simple.

“Prices reflect several factors,” Emily Metz, President & CEO of the American Egg Board tells In addition to inflation and supply chain challenges, Metz says egg farmers have also had to deal with a devastating bird flu.

A deadly bird flu

As if Covid isn’t enough, we’re currently living through the deadliest avian flu outbreak in history.

“Once one bird gets the flu, they all get taken out in short order,” Michael Swanson, a Wells Fargo economist, said on TODAY. He noted that the bird flu has reduced the overall supply of laying hens by 5% percent, year over year. Last year, the flu claimed the lives of more than 53 million birds.

All hope is not lost, though. “The good news is that our farms are recovering quickly,” insisted Metz. “In fact, most of the egg farms that were affected by bird flu have recovered and are back to producing eggs.”

Accusations of price gouging

Because of this, people are starting to question whether the avian flu is even to blame for the astronomical increase. In January, Farm Action, an NGO for farmers that protects them from large corporations and monopolies, sent a letter to the FTC asking that it immediately open an investigation into the egg industry.

The letter insinuates that the real “culprit” behind the price hikes are industry leaders. It goes so far as to accuse them of colluding together to take advantage of inflation and the public’s limited knowledge of the industry, to “extract egregious profits.” The letter cites how Cal-Maine, which controls 20% of the retail egg market, reported gross profits of $535.3 million in 2022, compared to $50.4 million in 2021, according to a late December filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In a statement shared with, Cal-Maine says, “the domestic egg market has always been intensely competitive and highly volatile even under normal market circumstances.” Furthermore, the company claims that it does not set retail egg prices, and even at its high current prices, “the nutritional content of eggs remains a great value for consumers.”

As for the FTC, a spokesperson tells it doesn’t comment on letters, petitions or complaints it receives from third parties, and so far the FTC has not made any public statements.

Egg smuggling

Meanwhile, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reporting a 108% increase in egg products and poultry seized at ports of entry, especially the Mexican border. The San Diego Field Office alone recently reported that its egg seizures were up by nearly 400 percent. It’s illegal to bring raw eggs or poultry into the U.S., and individuals caught smuggling eggs into the country face civil penalties and fines. All seized eggs are incinerated.

How consumers are coping

Still, most consumers aren’t hiring egg mules. In response to the shortage and high prices, many are using humor as a coping mechanism. All you have to do is log onto Twitter or TikTok to see an abundance of egg shortage memes and jokes (many referring to eggs as a new currency). For many shoppers, these jokes are taking some of the sting out of the whole situation. For others, especially business owners, laughing isn’t making it easier to shell out the big bucks. 

Taki Kastansis, CEO and founder of the egg-centric restaurant chain Yolk, told the Washington Post that last year’s food costs were about four times higher than what they were in previous years. Kastansis and his team have gone from paying about $18 for a case to about $70 for a case. It’s cutting into their bottom line, so much so that they’ve had to remove certain items from their menu.

Small business owners, especially in the bakery industry, are also having to rethink their recipes. Poulette Bakeshop, a beloved family-owned bakery in Parker, Colorado, says eggs have become its most expensive ingredient. They’re even more costly than the premium Valrhona chocolate they import from the south of France.

Meanwhile, some Americans who raise laying hens as a hobby are starting to second guess their side hustle. “I increased my price from $2.50 a dozen to $3 a dozen,” says Becky Jackson, a bookkeeper in Montana who, in her free time, supplies eggs to a handful of customers. “Even at $3 a dozen, I’m still losing money.”

When will egg prices go back to normal?

According to Metz, egg farmers are doing everything in their power to keep costs down and grocery stores stocked. The good news is the USDA’s most recent Egg Markets Overview shows egg prices are finally trending downward, in California at least. If you live elsewhere, like New York or the Midwest, prices are still creeping upward, although they’re not as high as they were in January. Most experts say it’s going to be a while before consumers can feel comfortable making quiche on the regular again.

In the meantime, how can you save money on eggs? Consider buying them in bulk and freezing them. Can’t find them in stores? Try these egg substitutes.