Eggs are now so expensive Americans are smuggling them from MEXICO with 300% jump in number seized
The price of eggs has risen so much over the past year that Americans are now resorting to smuggling them across the US-Mexico border.
A lingering bird flu outbreak, combined with soaring feed, fuel and labor costs, has led to US egg prices more than doubling over the past year, and hatched a lot of sticker shock on grocery aisles.
The national average price for a dozen eggs hit $4.25 in December, up from $1.78 a year earlier, according to the latest government data.
Customs data through January 17 shows that the number of eggs being seized has increased 91 percent at the El Paso, Texas field office, 301 percent in Laredo, Texas 333 percent in Tucson, Arizona and 368 percent in San Diego, California compared to the same period the previous year.
As egg prices rise in the US some Americans are attempting to save money by purchasing them in Mexico and bringing them back across the border
Bringing eggs back into the US from Mexico is illegal and has led to a surge in the amount being confiscated at the border. Pictured the El Paso, Texas, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico border
Bringing eggs back into the US from Mexico is illegal and had led to a surge in the amount being confiscated at the southern border.
Most of the eggs being seized involve cartons of 30-eggs that travelers bought for their own personal use because of substantially lower prices in Mexican stores.
California, Texas and Arizonan residents living near the border often buy groceries in Mexican stores, but some agricultural products, including raw eggs, are not allowed to be imported into the US due to the risk of spreading Newcastle Disease and avian flu.
In the majority of cases, people are often unaware of such restrictions with eggs being seized from travelers who declared their purchase to inspectors.
Those who did so were not fined but there have been some instances where the eggs were undeclared and travelers were slapped with penalties.
The price for a dozen eggs has risen from $1.46 in January 2020 to $4.25 in December 2022
A lingering bird flu outbreak, combined with soaring feed, fuel and labor costs, has led to U.S. egg prices more than doubling over the past year, and hatched a lot of sticker shock in stores
The price of eggs in the US has been significantly higher in the past year, with prices in December being 60 percent more expensive than in 2021, according to the Labor Department’s consumer price index.
The cost has gone up far more so than other foods such as chicken or turkey — because egg farmers were hit harder by bird flu and the subsequent destruction of hen flocks.
More than 43 million of the 58 million birds slaughtered over the past year to control the virus have been egg-laying chickens, including some farms with more than a million birds apiece in major egg-producing states like Iowa.
However, there has been some relief for consumers as the wholesale price of eggs has slightly decreased over the past month.
In some places, it can even be hard to find eggs on the shelves. But egg supplies overall are holding up because the total flock is only down about 5 percent from from its normal size of around 320 million hens.
Farmers have been working to replace their flocks as soon as they can after an outbreak.
Purdue University agricultural economist Jayson Lusk said he believes the bird flu outbreak is the biggest driver in the price increases. Unlike past years, the virus lingered throughout the summer and made a resurgence last fall infecting egg and poultry farms.
‘Bird flu is not the only factor, but in my view it’s the main driver of what we’re experiencing at the moment,’ Lusk said.
Egg shelves are seen with a note apologizing to customers for the price increase after the reduction in productivity brought on by poultry fatalities caused by various illnesses, in San Mateo, California, last week
But the president and CEO of the American Egg Board trade group, Emily Metz, said she believes all the cost increases farmers have faced in the past year were a bigger factor in the price increases than bird flu.
‘When you’re looking at fuel costs go up, and you’re looking at feed costs go up as much as 60 percent, labor costs, packaging costs — all of that … those are much much bigger factors than bird flu for sure,’ Metz said.
Jada Thomson, a University of Arkansas agricultural economist, said there may be some relief coming in egg prices in the next couple months because egg farmers have been steadily replacing their flocks lost to bird flu last year and demand will ease a bit now that people are done with their holiday baking.
But she said bird flu remains a wildcard that could still drive prices higher if there are more sizeable outbreaks at egg farms.
Farmers are doing all they can to limit the spread, but the disease is easily spread by migrating wild birds and the virus can be picked up on clothing or vehicles.
‘But there are some things that are just outside of our control,’ Thompson said. ‘You can’t control nature sometimes.’
Egg shelves are seen with a note apologizing to customers for the price increase after the reduction in productivity brought on by poultry fatalities caused by various illnesses, in San Mateo, California last week