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Egg prices rise to historic levels due to highly infectious bird flu

The wholesale price for eggs has reached historic levels ahead of Easter and Passover thanks to an avian flu that has swept across more than half the country.

Consumers might need to send the Easter Bunny a bill after decorating their eggs this year.

A highly-infectious avian flu is forcing farmers to kill millions of egg-laying birds across more than half the country, driving the price of eggs up to historic levels only days before Easter and Passover.

The wholesale price for white, large Midwest shell eggs is nearly three times as much as last year. The cost of a dozen surpassed $3 on March 31, which has only happened once before, according to market researchers Urner Barry.

The rising costs are driven in part by the bird flu outbreak that has been detected in at least 26 states and led to the death of millions of birds. The virus, which is rarely transmitted to humans, is hitting consumers as well as businesses that use large amount of eggs.

The prices of eggs has jumped dramatically in the past year, due in part to an avian flu forcing farmers to kill millions of birds.
The prices of eggs has jumped dramatically in the past year, due in part to an avian flu forcing farmers to kill millions of birds.TODAY

Renee Faris, the owner of Erie Coffeeshop & Bakery in Rutherford, New Jersey, goes through around 700 eggs a week and even more ahead of weekends like the upcoming Easter holiday.

"It’s pretty bad," Faris told NBC News correspondent Emilie Ikeda on TODAY Monday. "All of our stuff that is on our menu uses a lot of eggs."

The rise in the price of eggs comes as food prices have increased in several areas. From February 2021 until February 2022, milk prices have gone up 11.2%, candy has gone up 7.1%, and butter has gone up 5.5%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts groceries could increase another 4% by the end of the year, while the cost of eating out could go up as much as 6.5%, according to the USDA's Food Prices Outlook report released last month.

"I don’t want to raise my prices, but unfortunately we might have to, and I’ve noticed that a lot of businesses are raising their prices," Faris said.

The silver lining is that the supply of eggs is not tight at the moment, so there are no shortages predicted on the level of something like toilet paper early the pandemic. Also, many retailers have absorbed the extra cost of eggs for now, but analysts warn they may soon have to pass those costs onto consumers through higher prices.