Business spotlight: Egg prices stabilizing locally
Things are looking up — or maybe down — at the Gig Harbor Costco.
The price for a Costco-sized carton of eggs is down 50 cents.
“We have seen the deflation,” Assistant Manager Jason Sipe said, adding that it is impossible to predict future changes in prices and supply.
For a period of two weeks, the shelves of the store were entirely devoid of eggs.
Bird flu outbreak
Egg prices have been impacted by the cost of feed, transportation, and labor. But the primary factor influencing egg prices is the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) —commonly known as bird flu.
This virus can rapidly spread from one flock to another and is fatal to chickens. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the current outbreak has resulted in the death or culling of over 58 million birds. A third of the U.S. laying hen population has been wiped out by the virus.
By the end of 2022, egg prices soared by 210 percent from the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“The Avian Influenza virus continues to impact our industry,” according to the website of Costco egg supplier Wilcox Farm. To keep their birds safe from the virus, the farm has moved all of their hens to indoor mobile pastures.
Egg prices stabilizing
Markets throughout Gig Harbor have been impacted by egg supply and rising prices.
Safeway on Point Fosdick had a fully stocked refrigerator section with cartons of eggs last week, but this has not always been the case. Safeway Assistant Manager Paul Flores says occasional egg shortages have made it challenging to keep them in stock.
Flores cautions that panic buying can also have an impact on the store’s supply.
Nevertheless, he confirms that supplies and prices appear to be stabilizing. The store sells Lucerne Grade AA eggs for a little over $3 per dozen right now.
Harbor Greens, located on Olympic Drive, has not encountered any issues supplying eggs to its customers. However, the store has experienced price increases for regular brown and white eggs.
Last summer, a dozen of either type of egg cost around $3.50. More recently, the price has surged to $6.29. On the other hand, organic eggs remain at $6.99 per dozen.
The local farm option
Local farmers, like Aileen Amico from Blu Rooster Farm in Ray Nash Valley, are also experiencing the effects of rising costs. Amico reports that the price of feed has increased, and they held off on raising prices for as long as possible.
Even at $8 a dozen, her multi-colored eggs continue to sell well. “They’re selling like hotcakes,” Amico said.
Consumers can expect some respite from the surge in costs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that wholesale egg prices are gradually decreasing on a weekly basis.
While inflation eases, the spread of the Avian Influenza virus will undoubtedly continue to impact the poultry industry. The Washington State Department of Agriculture expects the disease will remain an ongoing risk for poultry in the state.