Eggs are expensive

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COLUMBIA - Nationwide, customers are paying one to two dollars more for eggs compared to last year’s prices.

This time last year, the national average for a dozen eggs was $1.41. The average has doubled to $2.71.

A bird flu outbreak in Korea last year is to blame. Half a million chickens were killed because of the contagious virus, leaving the foreign egg supply dismal. American farmers weren’t able to compensate for the loss, with their production levels plateauing.

Grocery stores use eggs as loss leaders, popular products sold at a lower price to incentivize customers to shop. In most stores, eggs are placed in the back, requiring customers to push their cart past a lot of other items on their way back to the cashier. Stores are losing money on the product, but banking on the idea that shopper will fill their cart with other foods.

“For the most part, consumers can be pretty reckless in their shopping,” David J. Livingston, a supermarket research analyst, told the Washington Post.

Many egg suppliers and hobby farmers use online platforms to sell their eggs.

“Social media. I put it on the marketplace on Facebook. A lot of my friends that I know wanted fresh eggs, so it kind of spread through the grapevine like that,” Fiona Gilson, an egg seller, said.

Gilson said she sells 10 to 20 dozen eggs per week. Besides buying the chickens, there are additional costs to producing eggs at home. Gilson buys her own egg cartons online.

“A lot of my customers are nice enough to save them and return them.”

Americans spend approximately 10 percent of their income on groceries. While a couple of bucks for a grocery staple doesn’t seem like a lot, every penny counts and it certainly adds up.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture reported that egg production increased 1 percent in April. If this trend continues, egg sellers will be able to sit comfortably. However, the risk for another outbreak or inclement weather conditions may cause another demand and supply issue.