Why Is the Price of Eggs Going Up & Is Collusion to Blame?

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Why is the price of eggs going up? Why do some believe collusion is to blame? When will egg prices come down?

The average price of eggs jumped 60% last year—one of the largest percentage increases of any food or service in the U.S. Some allege that the price of eggs is going up due to collusion between large egg producers taking advantage of Americans’ durable love of eggs to extract profits as high as 40%.

Keep reading to learn why the price of eggs is going up and if we will see it go down in the near future.

The Shockingly High Price of Eggs

The average American eats 287 eggs a year—roughly one egg most days of the week—and if you’re one of them, you may have noticed that your morning omelet got shockingly eggspensive in the past 12 months. If you’re curious about why the price of eggs is going up, a U.S. Senator, farmer-led advocacy group, and social media users have some theories: Major egg companies are colluding—in some cases with chicken feed producers to willfully botch their product—to reduce backyard egg production and force Americans to buy commercial eggs at inflated prices. 

What Is Going on With the Price of Eggs?

Although the price of many groceries has gone up over the past year, including as high as 12% last November, the price of eggs has risen significantly more than other foods: 

Bakeries and restaurants, which sell egg-reliant products, have also seen the cost of thirty cases of a dozen eggs swing from as much as $85 to $165. Some have been forced to pass along the soaring costs to customers to retain staff and stay afloat. 

Are Skyrocketing Egg Prices the Result of Collusion?

Some believe that large U.S. egg companies are engaged in a collusive scheme to line their pockets with money that many Americans can’t afford to spend right now. In a January 19 letter to the Federal Trade Commission, the farmer-led advocacy group Farm Action alleges that Cal-Maine, the nation’s largest egg producer and industry bellwether, extracted profits as high as 40% on the backs of Americans—under the guise of the avian influenza and out of control inflation. They assert that:

  • Leading firms in the egg industry have a history of employing cartel-like behavior to limit production, divide markets, and increase prices for customers—a concern founded by a jury as recently as 2018.
  • The avian flu outbreak of 2022, while serious, only minimally impacted egg supply. In fact, in May 2022, the USDA’s Economic Research Service observed that egg sector price increases were considerably larger than avian flu-related egg production decreases—and reflected both the “inelastic nature” of egg demand and dominant egg producers’ decision to not ramp up egg production to counter record-high prices. 

The Response to Collusion Allegations

The president and CFO of Cal-Maine, which announced record-setting profits for the second quarter of fiscal year 2023, denied Farm Action’s allegations. Major feed suppliers and poultry experts also deny altering their product, calling collusion claims fake news. In fact, they contend, egg prices have doubled due to rising labor, packaging, fuel, and feed costs—the last of these by as much as 60% due to the war in Ukraine which, along with Russia, is a key global supplier of wheat and grains used for feed.

What’s Next?

So, will egg prices keep going up or will we see them come back down anytime soon? Though the FTC has declined to comment on Farm Action’s allegations, Economists say that brighter skies may be ahead for Americans eager to see egg prices ease: Wholesale egg prices fell to $3.40 a dozen in late January, down from a high of $5.46 in late December, and consumers generally feel wholesale price shifts about four weeks later. So once we’re through Easter (typically a period of high demand for eggs) consumers may eggsperience some relief. 

Why Is the Price of Eggs Going Up & Is Collusion to Blame?

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Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

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