Bird flu pushes egg prices to record highs, USDA says

U.S. egg prices this year are at a record high following the worst bird-flu outbreak in history, according to a Department of Agriculture report.

Average prices for Grade A large eggs delivered to the store in the Midwest hit a range of  $2.73 to $2.81 per dozen, the USDA said in the report released Wednesday. That is the most expensive price for a dozen eggs, according to data going back to 2000.

A record bird-flu outbreak killed more than 48 million fowl in the first half of 2015, hurting companies such as Mississippi-based Cal-Maine Foods Inc., the country’s largest egg supplier. Average prices had been as low as $1.06 a dozen on Jan. 9.

“Prices are likely to get even stronger into the baking season with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up ahead,” Thomas Elam, president of FarmEcon LLC, a Carmel-based agricultural and food industry consulting firm. He estimated that the shortage could persist into next fall.

In May, Goldman Sachs estimated that U.S. consumers will pay $7.5 billion to $8 billion more this year to buy eggs, an increase of at least 75 percent from 2014.

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