Egg prices finally fell in February, but will they stay that way?

(NEXSTAR) — After months of inflation, eggs suddenly got a little cheaper — but don’t expect them to stay that way.

The price of eggs in the US has been rising sharply since last fall, but inflation data shows that the average price fell 7% in February.

Suddenly, the average price of a dozen large white grade A eggs dropped from $4.82 in January to $4.21 in February.

“Part of this is because we’re past the period of peak demand,” said Rodney Holcomb, a professor of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University.

Holcomb pointed to the traditional season at the end of the year, when holiday-related cooking causes a spike in demand. Bird flu has continued to strain supplies for months, leading to the culling of more than 58 million birds to contain the virus, according to the Associated Press.

“You’re in short supply – largely due to bird flu and its effect on our flocks. Then we saw prices skyrocket more than they had in several years,” Holcomb said.

February’s slump may be due in part to farmers finally building up their supply of laying hens, which he said takes time, unlike broilers meant for eating, which are ready in about two months.

“It takes six months before she’s really, really, really productive day in and day out, an egg-producing hen,” Holcomb said. “We lost so many back in the fall that it took us a while, in January and February, to start building our channel stock back up.”

Easter is coming, will the prices stay low?

If you’re planning a massive Easter egg hunt, be prepared for a potentially expensive grocery bill.

“I think we’re going to see prices go back up,” Holcomb said. “There has been a lot of concern about what might happen to egg prices. If you look at the data from the USDA Economic Research Service, of all their projections—of food price changes and across categories for 2023—eggs are by far the highest and most variable in terms of change.”

According to the USDA, egg prices are projected to increase by 37.8 percent in 2023, with a range of 18.3 percent to 62.3 percent.

On Tuesday, Dollar Tree announced it would stop selling eggs altogether, citing inflated prices. In March 2022, the average price of a dozen eggs was $2.05. A year earlier, the figure was $1.63.

Holcomb said this year some may see the shelf price and end up buying just a dozen eggs instead of two or three dozen like in years past.

“All of a sudden those plastic eggs, just by filling them with treats and prizes, they start to look a lot better,” Holcomb said. “And if you’re going to cook colored eggs, hold on to them, because you might as well eat them. They are worth the investment.”

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