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With egg prices going up, where does it leave Northern Nevada businesses and consumers?

A dozen grade A eggs labeled for sale for $7.99.
Jacob Kostuchowski
KUNR Public Radio
A carton of grade A eggs sold at the Urban Market in Reno, Nev.

With egg prices on the rise across the country, local businesses and consumers are left to deal with the offset. Why are the prices increasing so much? The answer seems to vary.

The Urban Market in Reno is one of many local businesses impacted by increasing egg prices. Owner Denise Barcomb has had to increase egg prices just so she is able to make any profit.

“We were sourcing eggs at less than $2 a dozen six months ago. Eggs now cost between $5 and $6 a dozen. That’s my cost,” Barcomb said.

And that is even if she is able to get her hands on them.

“We can’t even get them. And we’ve had to expand our sourcing beyond, say, one or two suppliers to six or eight suppliers,” she said.

Right now, it seems unclear why there is such an increase in the cost of eggs. The answer most egg producers have given is an outbreak of avian flu.

The first case of avian flu was documented in a commercial egg facility in Delaware a year ago. The outbreak spread, and by the end of 2022, around 43 million egg-laying hens were lost to the virus.

With such a loss, it would be expected that some of the major players in the egg industry would have been impacted financially; however, companies like Cal-Maine, which owns about 20% of the egg industry, recorded a quarterly sales increase of 110% compared to the same quarter a year prior.

These numbers raised a few eyebrows. Farm Action, a farmers’ advocacy group, accused the industrial farm industry of price gouging. The group sent an open letter to Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Lina Khan asking for an investigation.

Skyrocketing egg prices have even caught the attention of members of Congress.

Nevada’s Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto also sent a letter to Khan asking the FTC to begin looking into the matter. Cortez Masto even took to Twitter to express her displeasure over the egg prices.

“The price of eggs nowadays is outrageous. And that’s why I have called on the Biden administration to ensure that families are paying fair prices at the grocery store. If there are bad actors out there, then we need to hold them accountable.”

But where does this leave the consumer? Most are not even sure why the increases are happening in the first place. Caroline Dickens, a local shopper, said she is at a loss.

“I have no idea. It’s a mystery to me,” Dickens said.

Mike Robedeau, an Urban Market customer, likes the idea of removing the reliance on big corporations.

“I like the idea of some people increasing production by having their own chickens and their own urban farms or urban-rural farms,” he said.

KUNR's Jacob Kostuchowski is a student at the Reynolds School of Journalism.

Jacob Kostuchowski is a former student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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