IONIA – Alex Courts noticed that the price of eggs started to rise last fall.
Courts, the general manager of Ken’s Farm Market in Ionia, was not alarmed at the time, but that changed.
“Once[prices]got to a certain point, which is really the highest we’ve ever seen — sometime in the mid to late fall of (2022) — I thought, ‘OK, this is a bit unusual,'” he said. court of law.
More:Zeeland is discussing a possible surcharge for ‘food-producing’ pets, including bees and chickens
More:Why are egg prices so high? And when will they come down?
According to the Consumer Price Index of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price for a dozen Class A eggs in the U.S. was $4.25 in December 2022 compared to $1.79 in December 2021. That’s an increase of about 237 percent.
Why are the prices so high? It is a combination of higher production costs and an outbreak of bird flu. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that more than 43 million laying hens have died since the outbreak began in February 2022.
Nancy Barr, executive director of Michigan Allied Poultry Industries, said there are “numerous variables” that affect the price of eggs in Michigan. She said farmers don’t set the price – they sell their eggs on an open market, with prices changing daily.
“(Market impact) includes inflation, supply chain and employment costs, which affect everyone,” she said, adding that egg farmers in Michigan are also highly sensitive to the cost of fuel prices, which directly impact feed and packaging costs .
“On the other hand, eggs are still the cheapest protein Americans can buy, and budget-conscious consumers who see big spikes in beef are choosing to buy eggs, increasing demand in grocery stores statewide.”
Barr said the health and welfare of birds in the care of farmers is paramount.
“Avian flu killed more than 40 million egg-laying hens in the U.S. by 2022, and while Michigan farmers have avoided a major outbreak, our farmers remain vigilant with preventive biosecurity tactics,” Barr said. “These health and safety protocols also contribute to rising prices.”
And then there’s the shift to producing cage-free eggs – which are more expensive.
Ken’s Farm Market in Ionia was concerned that higher prices would upset customers. At one point, a large dozen eggs cost $5, Courts said.
“It really stayed on track into late fall, into the holidays and into the new year,” he said.
The company has found a number of brands that offer better value for money, Courts said. They also explored the cage-free egg market, announcing the week of January 9 that cage-free large eggs were available for $3.99 a dozen
“It’s been really good for us, it’s been (good) for our customers and it’s brought us a little bit of value,” Courts said.
But some Michiganders are tired of waiting for prices to fall. Jamestown Township resident Patricia Kraus told WOOD TV-8 that she has received an influx of requests for eggs after she started raising her own chickens last year.
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Kraus told the station she normally sells eggs for $7-$8 a dozen, but said the product is high quality.
“Farm fresh eggs are… they are better and frankly should be more expensive than the eggs you find in the store because we know what we are feeding our chickens; we know they’ll be taken care of,” Kraus said.
At least one municipality is considering amending the ordinance to allow residents to keep food-producing pets, including chickens and bees. The Ottawa city of Zeeland began exploring the shift after seeing an increase in requests in response to the pandemic and rising prices.
It is unclear when egg prices will return to normal, but there has been a dip since early 2023.
“I think there’s hope that it will sort of fail from here,” Courts said.
– Contact reporter Evan Sasiela at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SalsaEvan.