The wholesale price of eggs in the Midwest has more than doubled in just five weeks, to $2.71 for a dozen eggs as of March 23, according to USDA data. This is the highest price since August 2015 when a bird flu outbreak pushed prices up to $2.77.
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The surge in prices comes as Easter is early in the year, on April 1.
“Easter is propelling demand, and it is earlier than last year,” Vertical Group analysts said in a report seen by Bloomberg. “Despite the surge in egg prices, retailers are still using eggs as a loss leader to drive traffic in an aggressively competitive retail environment.”
Grocery stores use “loss leaders,” products they sell at a loss in order to drive traffic into stores, hoping that once people are in the store they will spend money on products that will generate profits for the store. Milk and eggs are common loss leaders at stores.
While egg prices are higher, the U.S. had 385.6 million laying hens on March 1, the most for that month in at least a decade, according to USDA data.
The USDA said Tuesday egg supplies are light to moderate while the average price of Large white eggs to consumers, Grade A or better, continues to trend higher.