Egg prices have more than tripled in some states over the past year. Here’s why.

the The high cost of eggs In the United States limits family budgets. Americans have in recent years increased the number of eggs they consume while decreasing their intake of beef and venison, according to data From the US Department of Agriculture.

Egg consumption has increased in part because more families are eating them as their main protein replacement, according to Los Angeles Times reporter Sonia Sharp. Tell CBS News. “Each of us eats nearly as many eggs as a hen can lay in a year,” she said.

As the demand for eggs soared, production in the United States decreased due to its persistence Avian or “bird” flu pandemic. Approximately 58 million birds have been infected with avian influenza as of January 6, USDA He said, making it the deadliest outbreak in US history. Affected birds must be slaughtered, which leads to reduced egg supplies and higher prices.

Families and restaurants alike are now paying high prices for eggs as the outbreak affects 47 states.

In California, for example, data He explains that the average price of a dozen eggs came to $7.37 last week, compared to $2.35 a year ago. The national average price of eggs per dozen in bulk is now $3.30, USDA He said last week. The average price of a dozen eggs in a US city rose to a record $3.58 in November, according to the latest data Available from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Sharp said prices likely won’t fall again until new chickens are born free of infection and grow to egg-laying age. The USDA reported that more than 300 flocks of farm-raised poultry had contracted the disease as of last Friday. data.

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In New York, grocery store owner Jose Felipe said that rising egg prices have prompted many customers to change their spending habits.

“I’ve seen customers gravitate from buying organic eggs now to more conventional eggs, and now specifically, half a dozen. Prices have quadrupled in about six or seven months,” she said. She recently told Gina DeAngeles of CBS New York.

What is bird flu?

Avian influenza is transmitted by free-flying waterfowl, such as ducks, geese, and shorebirds, and infects chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quails, domestic ducks, geese, and guinea fowl. In another major epidemic of the disease, it killed more than 50 million chickens and turkeys in 2014 and 2015, while causing $3.3 billion in economic losses, the USDA estimates. The agency is now looking for a possible vaccine against avian influenza.

Fortunately, public health risks are associated with avian influenza still lowAccording to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, it is recommended that all poultry and eggs be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F as a general food safety rule.

The cost of processed eggs — used in liquid or powder form in processed products including salad dressings, cake mix and potato chips — has also gone up, adding to inflationary pressures.

Consumer Price Index – a closely watched measure of inflation – It rose 7.1% in December from the previous year. Lower prices for energy, commodities, and used cars offset increases in food and shelter.

Even with the higher cost, eggs remain relatively cheap compared to the price of other proteins such as chicken or beef, with a pound of chicken breast fetching an average of $4.42 in November and a pound of ground beef selling for $4.85, according to the government. data.

But if egg prices remain high, Chicago resident Kelly Fisher said she will start to think more seriously about building a backyard chicken coop because everyone in her family eats eggs.

“We (along with the neighbors) are thinking of building a chicken coop behind our houses, so I hope in the end I don’t buy it and get my own eggs and I think the cost comes fairly,” said the 46-year-old public school teacher. While shopping at HarvesTime Foods on the north side of town. “For me, it’s more about environmental impact and trying to buy locally.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

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