Egg prices in New Jersey driven up by Midwest bird flu outbreak
Making an omelet or baking a cake is becoming a bit more expensive for shoppers. The Avian flu in the Midwest, already responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of egg-laying birds, has jacked up egg prices in the Garden State and across the country.
Supply is down, and demand is high, driving up the wholesale cost of eggs, and that increase has already been passed on to consumers in some supermarkets.
As of Tuesday at Wegmans locations throughout New Jersey, the price of a dozen large eggs jumped to $2.29 -- up from $1.99 a few weeks ago.
"We don't ever like to raise prices, but sometimes it's unavoidable under these circumstances," said Jo Natale, vice president of media relations for Wegmans. "There may have to be another increase soon because costs have continued to rise."
She said, however, that all Wegmans stores' eggs and poultry come from East Coast suppliers, none of whom have been affected by the outbreak.
A spokesperson for ShopRite said the chain has been notifying customers of the anticipated price increases.
Not all stores have shared the hit with shoppers yet, however. According to John Anderson of the American Farm Bureau Federation, retailers will move their prices based on their competitors.
Citing federal data, Anderson said over the past week, the wholesale price for a dozen large Grade A eggs climbed from approximately $2.05 to $2.40. The price was $1.30 one year ago.
"It looks like it's really making the wholesale markets move quite a bit," he said. "This is a pretty big disruption in our production system."
Some farms in the Midwest have shut down in light of the virus outbreak, which began in December.
Douglas Fisher, Secretary of Agriculture for New Jersey, said there are currently no cases in New Jersey, but there is a heightened awareness.
"We certainly want to give notice to all our producers, and even those with backyard flocks, of what to look for," he said. "We're passing out flyers to county boards and agencies around the state."