More Eggs-cruciating Details About The Nation's Egg Shortage

More Eggs-cruciating Details About The Nation's Egg Shortage

Kevin McCarthy, whose office door identifies him as speaker of the House, is still hammering President Joe Biden about the price of eggs. Eggs are expensive now, and it's because of Democrats' out-of-control spending! That makes absolutely no economic sense, but McCarthy is a shameless liar.

During a speech this week, McCarthy somberly declared, "Eggs used to be a cheap protein. Now, they're practically a delicacy. We’ve got to pump the breaks [sic] on the overspending in Washington in order to get inflation under control."

Not to get all foodie on Marjorie Taylor Greene's BFF, but a delicacy is usually defined as a rare and expensive food item. Eggs aren't actually rare. We are experiencing a temporary issue because of a bird flu outbreak, and even at their most expensive, eggs were hardly at the same price point as truffles, foie gras, and caviar.

PREVIOUSLY: The Egg-onomic Truth About Joe Biden's Egg-Flation!

Wholesale egg prices have dropped more than 50 percent since December. Retail egg prices are expected to follow. Yet McCarthy is still freaking out about eggs like a headless chicken.

For the average consumer, egg prices were still up 150 percent in January from a year prior. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a dozen eggs were about $4.80 with variations based on your location. Now, Congress could gut Social Security and we can all GoFundMe retirement plans for elderly pizza delivery workers.

Or we could confirm whether top agricultural funds are deliberately screwing us. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Katie Porter sent a letter to the nation's top egg companies last week. "American families working to put food on the table deserve to know whether the increased prices they are paying for eggs represent a legitimate response to reduced supply or out-of-control corporate greed," they wrote.

That's an uncomfortable question that might have some CEOs sheepishly admitting under oath, "Uh, corporate greed?"

Cal-Maine Foods is the largest producer and distributor of eggs in the United States. If you buy Farmhouse Eggs, Sunups, Sunny Meadow, Egg-Land’s Best or Land O’ Lakes, that's all Cal-Maine Foods. These guys are hardly taking it on the chin. In fact, Cal-Maine’s profit increased 65 percent to $198 million during the three months that ended on November 26 compared to the previous year, when children happily juggled eggs in their backyard.

And as supply remains tight and its profits surge, Cal-Maine said it expects the outbreak to continue to affect the overall supply of eggs this year.

Cal-Maine on December 28 reported record quarterly sales of $801.7 million, a 110% increase compared with the same quarter last year.

The company also reported gross profits up 600 percent in a late-December filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


Last month, in The Atlantic, Yasmin Tayag wrote that folks would just have to get "used to expensive eggs."

Surging egg prices are partly a familiar story of pandemic-era inflation. Producing eggs costs more because fuel, transportation, feed, and packaging are more expensive now, Jada Thompson, an agricultural economist at the University of Arkansas, told me. And it doesn’t help that there are no great substitutes for eggs. But a big reason prices are so high right now is the avian flu—a virus that infects many types of birds and is deadly for some. Right now, we’re facing the worst-ever wave in the U.S.; it has decimated chicken flocks and dented America’s egg inventory.

These are all true statements. However, it seems as if Cal-Maine Foods is actively benefitting from the shortage. They're not barely breaking even. They're breaking the bank.

Warren and Porter have requested information from Cal-Maine and other egg producers Daybreak, Hillandale, Rose Acre, and Versovaon on executive compensation, profit margins, and actual avian flu impacts on the bottom line. They have until March 1 to egg-splain themselves.

And that's it for me! Good night, everybody.

[Reuters / The Atlantic / CNN Business]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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