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Business & Economy

Avian flu, higher production costs blamed for egg cost increase

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Avian influenza has spread rapidly in the past year, killing nearly 60 million birds nationally, which are mostly chickens and turkeys, and millions of them were in Ohio.

The bird shortage has caused egg prices to skyrocket.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the price for eggs delivered to warehouses in the midwest is at $5.17 a dozen. Consumers are paying more than 200% more than they were in December 2021, according to the Consumer Price Index.

The average advertised retail price for a dozen eggs was $3.58 in December, up from $3.17 in November, according to egg-news.com. Eggs are most expensive at $4.99 a dozen on average in the northeast. In the midwest, including Ohio, the price is considered low at $2.99 a dozen.

Jim Chakeres, Executive Vice President of the Ohio Poultry Association, said the bird flu is not the only factor causing the jump in cost. "The prices that we see in the grocery store for everything have gone up due to the cost of labor and transportation, fuel costs, packaging. All of those things that are affecting everything that the consumer purchases also are affecting eggs and then it's kind of another layer on top of it, with the avian influenza."

Chakeres said despite the impact on bird populations and prices, the disease has a low chance of spreading to people.

"Avian influenzas can spread somewhat, but the CDC has looked at this particular virus, and basically this is staying in the bird population. We haven't seen the cross over and especially to humans," he said.

Looking forward, Chakeres said it is unclear when the avian flu will weaken. "Normally, there's a timeline where they run their course, but this one seems to be a longer cycle. But I can tell you that the farms work hard to make sure that they can repopulate as soon as possible to bring those birds and those farms back into production."

Business & Economy
Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News.