During a routine grocery run the other day, I went to go grab a dozen eggs. When I saw the price ($4.50 for store brand), I thought I was seeing things. We don’t go through them very quickly, so it’d been a while since I purchased any, but holy shit, I wasn’t expecting that. And I’m sorry to say, we may not see relief anytime soon.
It’s the damn flu. Specifically, the avian flu, which is highly pathogenic and lethal to birds, reports NPR. So if a flock is infected with it, chances are it’ll ravage the entire population, and farmers will cull the entire thing (it’s that bad).
Egg-laying birds are particularly susceptible to the avian flu, which is why 52.7 million birds have already died this year, either from the disease or by culling. Those are mind-boggling, record-breaking numbers, so of course egg prices are going to be driven up, and big time. Chickens that provide meat, like roaster birds, aren’t as easily infected, so prices of meat haven’t been affected in the same way, and in fact are going down, due to an ease on supply.
One of the reasons why this strain of avian flu is such a problem this season is because it can also be transmitted among wild bird populations. So if a bird of prey consumes a duck or chicken carcass, it can spread the disease even further if it reaches another population of fowl. Transmission to humans is extremely rare, so at least we don’t have to worry about that.
In the meantime, there are vegan egg substitutes if things get really dire, and ingredients like vegan mayo (which is actually pretty good from my experience) to help ease the load on your egg consumption. And there are plenty of traditional recipes that you can make without eggs, like pasta.
Unfortunately, there’s no telling if and when the avian flu will ease up, so it’s not likely we’ll see a relief in egg prices anytime soon. Vaccine development is underway, but it will likely take some time before it can be implemented, which means more flocks will easily be culled by then. So if you do happen to see a sale on eggs, take advantage.