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Egg prices drop, but is this a sign of permanent relief? Experts say not so fast

USDA data shows egg prices are on the decline, but with the ongoing threats of avian flu and inflation, how low they'll go is still unknown.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — A bit of good news for shoppers, as new government data shows egg prices are finally starting to decline.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average price for a carton of a dozen large white eggs dropped last week from $3.32 a dozen to $3.08 a dozen in the Northeast.

"As the supply constraints start to ease, it’s quite likely you start seeing prices decrease as well," said Dr. Andrew Vassallo, an associate professor of economics and chair of the economics department at Shippensburg University.

But poultry industry experts explain consumers should take the drop in prices with a grain of salt.

Gino Lorenzoni, assistant professor of poultry science and avian health at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, warns it might not mean permanent relief, as the threat of avian flu still looms.

"It worries me," he said. "I think the whole industry is concerned about the future of this outbreak."

Just last week, outbreaks were confirmed in two Lancaster County flocks, one at a duck farm and the other at a commercial poultry farm.

Together, the outbreaks affected more than 35,000 birds.

Lorenzoni explains while the avian flu outbreak that’s occurred over the past year isn’t the first in our nation’s history, it has proven to be more lethal and widespread than prior outbreaks.

“Birds that are non-migratory birds, wild birds, are also getting infected," he said.

So far, more than 10% of the country’s egg-laying hens have been lost in the outbreak, a number that will take a long time to recoup.

"We’re behind maybe a year or two, if you’re asking how long it’ll take in recovering the numbers we had," explained Lorenzoni.

Plus, Grant Gulibon, environmental specialist for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, explains that avian flu isn’t the only factor impacting egg prices

“Almost every input farmers use to produce food, fuel and fiber is more expensive due to the effects of inflation," said Gulibon.

That's why economists like Dr. Vassallo believe the days of buying eggs for less than $2 may still be very far away.

"It might not be that the prices come all the way down but it might be they come down part of the way and hold steady in a way where price increases for everything else get to catch up," said Dr. Vassallo.

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