Avian flu outbreak disrupts egg production in US14 Apr 2022
Poultry farmers in the US are experiencing the worst avian flu outbreak since 2015 with over 24 million birds already lost, threatening seasonal egg production and raising prices.
According to a report by CoBank, wholesale prices on eggs are on track to reach over $1.00 per dozen before Easter, and the analysis predicts that these prices could continue to climb to surpass the peaks experienced at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 when they hit $3.00 per dozen. Normally, the price for a dozen eggs ranges between $0.75 to $1.50.
Data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA’s) Egg Market News Report from April 4, show that regional egg prices were up 31 cents for Jumbo, 31 to 81.5 cents higher for extra large, up to 81.5 cents for large, up to 70.5 cents higher for medium, and up 10 cents for small. On average the price of a dozen eggs has reached $2.60, up from $1.40 at the same time last year.
Fewer, more expensive eggs on the horizon
Not only will eggs be more expensive, but there will be fewer available. “It seems obvious that egg availability heading into Easter is sure to be hampered,” the analysis from CoBank said. The supply pressures exerted by the avian flu are exacerbating the challenges that have been present from a tighter supply chain and higher feed costs due to rising commodity prices.
In Iowa, which is one of the largest egg-producing states in the US, more than 11 million of the 56 million laying hens have succumbed to the avian flu and died, according to the USDA. At one egg-laying facility in Osceola, 5 million birds were reported dead on March 31, a USDA report found.
This bout of flu may not last long
However, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told reporters in a call that the repercussions from this outbreak will be “significantly less” than what was seen in 2015, The Iowa Capital Dispatch reported.
While flocks have recovered from past outbreaks that have been relatively limited in scope, this bout of avian flu has spread rapidly across the US, primarily carried by wild birds. Since the disease was detected in late 2021 on the island of Newfoundland, Canada, it has spread to 31 states. Currently, with the highest detection of its presence is in wild birds in North Carolina.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that this particular strain of avian influenza, which is Eurasian H5N1 HPAI, has a low risk to public health.
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