A perfect ‘bad storm’ is driving egg prices up, experts say

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — It’s not just the Avian Flu that has caused egg prices to rise, economists say. Oklahoma has had a few barn yard cases of the bird flu but not as many cases in other states.

Rodney Holcomb is a professor and food economist at the Oklahoma State University Extension.

He says it all boils down to economics. Oklahoma has an egg deficit – producing about one half of 1% of all U.S. egg production. The demand is one of many things that is driving up egg prices.

Oklahoma depends on other states with higher egg production and when those states get hit with the Avian Flu, it affects the prices in Oklahoma.

But the high egg prices, Holcomb says, are the result of a ‘perfect bad storm.’

“The war in Ukraine had an effect on corn and soybeans and when you start talking about feed for most livestock, including poultry, corn and soybeans is a big part of that,” Holcomb says.

He says double-digit inflation in food prices over the last two years and gas prices affected the cost of eggs.

“Because fertilizer prices are tied to fuel prices,” Holcomb says, “So, when fuel and fertilizer prices are extremely high, then the cost of growing grain for chicken feed is going to go up a lot. Once it goes up, that means the cost of the chickens goes up, the cost of eggs goes up, the cost of broilers, turkeys, everything goes up.”

At Green Acres 918 in Broken Arrow, Laura and Brandon Green have 70 laying hens, with only a few eggs.

And with food prices rising 20% over last year, they made some changes.

“We have partnered with GP Provisions who own restaurants downtown, like Lowood, and they actually save their scraps for us so that we can feed our chickens and they can still get the nutrients that they need,” Green said.

With the high feed prices, they’d have to raise their prices to $10 per dozen of eggs.

But they have a different business plan.

“We have actually decided to try and outgive God and start giving our eggs away,” Laura Green said. “So we still take donations but for the most part, we just give our eggs away for free.”

They’ve chosen a different way of combatting inflation and the cost of eggs.

Holcomb says wherever the highest supply of eggs is, and the highest demand is – those two places will meet. He says Oklahoma imports a lot of eggs from neighboring states with higher production, like Iowa, Texas and Arkansas.

Holcomb says the U.S. lost 44 million laying hens last year and it will take time to recover.

“It’s still going to take a few months to get the production level back up to where we need it to be to meet the current demand for eggs,” he says, “And even then, because of the huge price increase we’ve seen in all food products for the last two years, we may come down but it’s not going to be our old normal from a few years ago, it’s going to be some new inflation-adjusted normal.”

So, egg prices won’t be as high as they are now but not as low as before. The Green family had to make their own adjustments to their poultry farm – besides giving away eggs for free.

“We’ll give our eggs away and we’ll have silkies and polish, which we can also sell for a good price,” Green says, “And so we can make a profit off of that.”

That’s a lot of changes for a fledgling farm.





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