How the avian flu outbreak is affecting our grocery shopping

Hello again dear readers! After a short holiday break, we are back with our usual weekly blogposts. We thought that this example of an animal disease affecting our lives would be a great topic to kickstart 2023. Enjoy!

How did it start? 

Many dead ducks on a field after a culling mandate in France
(Reuters) Ducks culled in France after a government order in an effort to contain the outbreak in the country.

The Avian Flu outbreak began in the United States in January 2022 when a strain of the virus, specifically, H5N1 spread through wild and domestic birds. In the United States, the outbreak advanced rapidly due to a combination of factors. First, the virus had a high mutation rate, and it is highly contagious which allowed it to spread, very quickly, to several bird species. Finally, the virus was widespread in the poultry industry, with many birds already infected before the outbreak was detected  

 As the virus spread, it mutated further and became more infectious (meaning that it could jump more easily between exposed organisms), leading to an increase in cases, especially within poultry farms. All these factors combined to create an environment in which the virus could spread quickly and widely, resulting in a major outbreak leading to the death of millions of chickens and turkeys due to the infection. In an effort to contain the virus, many poultry farms were forced to shut down temporarily, reducing their production levels significantly, and in many cases culling their animals. This, in addition to increasing costs of fuel, feed, and packaging, has caused a shortage of eggs, as well as an upsurge in prices. 

Grocery store freezer showing eggs and dairy products
Being one of the most commonly consumed items in many households around the world, the egg price surge is expected to affect the pockets of many families.

 The price of eggs has gone up considerably since the start of 2021. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), wholesale egg prices rose by nearly 60% during this period. Retail egg prices have also seen an increase, with some stores charging as much as $3 per dozen for large eggs—a sharp rise from the average price of around $1-2 before the outbreak began.  

Looking Ahead: 

It is difficult to predict exactly when egg prices will return to normal levels, but experts believe that it could take anywhere from 6-12 months before supply and demand are back in balance again. Until then, consumers should expect higher than usual egg prices—and be prepared for even more volatility depending on how quickly poultry farmers can get their operations back up and running again safely. 


By: Alejandro Sanchez MDP | Communications and Engagement Specialist

Posted: January 26, 2023

Category: Agriculture, Farm Management, Pests & Disease, UF/IFAS Research, Wildlife
Tags: Alejandro Sanchez MDP, Avian Flu, IFAS One Health, Interdisciplinarity, One Health, One Health At UF, Outbreak, Zoonosis

Subscribe For More Great Content

IFAS Blogs Categories