Basic laws of economics are finally catching up with America’s breakfast eaters: The USDA warns that, thanks to the nation’s worst-ever bird flu outbreak, the price of a dozen eggs will climb to a record high this year. The cost has already increased by as much as 23 cents in the last week! Estimates say the epidemic destroyed 12 percent of the nation’s egg-laying flock, pushing a carton of extra-large eggs that used to cost 99 cents up into “the $3 range” in some places.
The USDA’s latest report predicts that egg prices for 2015 will average between $1.60 and $1.66 a dozen — reaching $1.73 to $1.87 by year’s end. That’s a 30-cent bump from last month’s 2015 estimate. For context: 2014’s average price, itself an all-time high, clocked in at $1.42.
It’s affecting chains, specifically: Ninety percent of the lost eggs were going to be processed into liquid eggs — how places like McDonald’s buy theirs in bulk. Whataburger, a major Texas chain, has reduced breakfast hours, while others have resorted to snatching up whole eggs, making the shortage worse for regular consumers. All told, it’s bad news if you’re planning an epic brunch, or just want to give your neighbor’s house a good egg-pelting à la Justin Bieber.