Consumers in Nebraska are seeing some grocery prices rise as the price of eggs used by food manufacturers has more than tripled in recent weeks due to the avian influenza outbreaks in Nebraska and 15 other states.
Bird flu has affected more than four-million egg-laying hens at three major operations in northeast Nebraska’s Dixon County.
USDA poultry economist Alex Melton says food company officials are worried about supply.
Melton says, “When there is a scare in any sort of national market for any commodity, you often see a sharp increase in price followed by a tapering as people are able to take more stock and get more information.”
Melton says it’s hard to say how high costs will eventually climb, since no one knows when the avian flu outbreaks will stop. Eggs used in food processing cost 64-cents a dozen back in April, but now the price is over $2.25 a dozen.
Melton says prices have started to taper, but stabilizing costs depend on the egg industry’s ability to replace and sustain the current flock. He says, “Egg producers can take different actions to try to extend their productivity by either keeping a laying hen in action longer and speeding up repopulation of barns with new pullets.”
Roughly 10% of the egg-laying hens in the U.S. have been affected by avian flu. In Nebraska, the poultry industry is worth $1.1-billion dollars a year. Next door in Iowa, the nation’s top egg producer, more than 66 outbreaks of bird flu are reported and more than 19-million hens and pullets have been euthanized.