Egg prices are up sixty percent on both coasts of the United States, which means prices will be affected in Canada. Despite a small month-to-month decrease in inflation, specific food items have stayed costly or risen in price since 2020 and the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic which wreaked havoc on all supply chains. Eggs in particular are 16.5 per cent more expensive than they were in December 2021, according to the latest CPI report which went on to caution consumers about how Canadian eggs reach the store, and how the retail price isn’t set by egg farmers. It’s a global marketplace and the laws of supply and demand will cause Canadian egg prices to spike as gaps in the US market are filled.
The graphic insert CNN created for their 13 January 2023 story had the word unprecedented in quotes and that’s probably because there is a precedent, an event that happened fifty years ago. A price rise like what we’re experiencing now occurred in 1973 when high feed costs and price freezes caused agricultural products to soar in price across the USA, affecting the market here in Canada. The price spike in eggs that occurred in the early seventies has been studied by economists all over the world because the sudden shortage and high demand happened despite near-record grain and oilseed crop production and despite the utilization of sizable reserves of wheat and feed grains that had accumulated in prior years. It was the global economy flexing its demand muscles, but that’s not what’s happening today.
Blame Russia, the weather, and a deadly infectious disease.
Avian flu has killed more than 50 million birds in the United States since the start of 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since early last year, the virus has devastated poultry flocks, especially turkeys and egg-laying hens all across the continent. It’s here in Canada too, on the Canadian government’s website it states, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is currently responding to cases of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in farmed birds across Canada. This serves as a strong reminder that avian influenza is spreading across the globe, and that anyone with farm animals must practice increased biosecurity habits as egg production plummets.
This current egg shortage crises is compounded by the war in Russia, and sanctions against the fertilizer exports of Belarus, and other higher costs, such as diesel fuel and feed grain. According to CNN, the egg shortage has enabled record quarterly profits and sales at Cal-Maine Foods, the largest producer and distributor of eggs in the United States. The company produces well known American egg brands such as Farmhouse Eggs, Sunups, Sunny Meadow, Egg-Land’s Best and Land O’ Lakes eggs. Cal-Maine’s profit increased 65% to $198 million during the three months ended Nov. 26 from a year ago. The high cost of eggs in the United States means that prices will also rise here in Canada.
Eggs are also heavily segmented as a retail category. Errol Schweizer writes in FoodPrint magazine, in Grocery Supply Chains: Understanding Why Eggs Cost What They Cost, that there are many price points and quality attributes for eggs. Such segments can be marketed to different customer groups based on income, geography, personal values and tastes. Segmentation is how grocery merchandisers organize and price products, including what stores they are placed in, what shelf they go on and how much space they have (and the dark side of grocery segmentation is when stores in poorer neighborhoods do not sell the widest variety and best quality products, contributing to food apartheid.) Category segments for eggs, such as cage-free, organic and pasture-raised are now available at most grocery stores due to surging interest from consumers. Because they are a single ingredient product with multiple price and attributes segments, they can make it easy to help us understand how retail prices really work.
Cost of a High Protein Breakfast Doubles in One Year
Grocery prices remain stubbornly high (and nearly double the rate of overall inflation) at 11.8% year over year, according to data released Thursday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Milk, butter, flour and bacon have all increased in price here in Canada. Depending on where consumers shop, or what brand they buy, they could be paying as much as $7.00 dollars a dozen.One glimmer of hope, CBC now reports a 13% decrease in gas prices and inflation is also tracking lower. Caneggs reminds readers that affordable food matters to everyone, and as one of the highest-quality proteins available in the market, egg white protein powder remains great value.