The cost of a dozen eggs at U.S. grocery stores has climbed to the highest since 2008 as demand for the food usually scrambled, fried or poached shifts to coloring and hiding for the Easter holiday.
The CHART OF THE DAY shows egg prices have jumped 7.1 percent in the past 12 months to a six-year high of $2.061 a dozen in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. exports have jumped, and domestic consumption has climbed for a protein alternative to beef, pork and milk, whose costs by some measures climbed to a record, said John Anderson, a Washington-based deputy chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Shoppers traditionally stock up on eggs for dyeing and cooking every Easter, which falls on April 20 this year, boosting sales, said Kevin Burkum, a senior vice president at the American Egg Board in Park Ridge, Illinois. In the four weeks leading up to the holiday in 2013, 2.6 billion eggs were bought, up 3.8 percent from 2012, he said, citing data from Nielsen.
“With the prices, it’s hard to know exactly what retailers will do,” Burkum said. “We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to top last year. Eggs are still a very good value.”
Exports rose 32 percent to 28.2 million dozen in February from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Demand increased from Mexico following an outbreak of avian influenza, Anderson of the farm bureau said. U.S. per-capita domestic demand will climb 1.4 percent this year from 2013, the USDA said.
Eggs prices probably will ease after Easter as exports lose some of their “super strength,” Anderson said. Annual shipments will fall 16 percent, the USDA forecast. Costs that are higher than average may persist if protein prices advance, he said. Retail ground beef and pork chops rose to records in March, and milk futures in Chicago climbed to the highest ever this month.