Egg prices are absolutely soaring, while chicken meat prices have been well-grounded. What gives?
Team FRED Blog never wants to sound like Chicken Little, but we also don’t want to walk on eggshells. So, first, let’s simply look at the data: The FRED graph above shows that the average price of whole fresh chickens (in brown) rose 13% between January and December 2022 while the average price of eggs (in yellow) rose 120%. That’s 10 times faster!
Now let’s combine these data with some reporting from the US Department of Agriculture: During 2022, repeated outbreaks of avian influenza ravaged farm flocks of egg-laying hens, thereby drastically reducing the supply of eggs, which drove their prices to record highs. But the price of chicken meat has not experienced the same degree of inflation. Why?
Well, farmers don’t have all their chickens in one basket. Chickens raised for meat (a.k.a. “broilers”) have been less exposed and therefore less susceptible to the avian influenza that has decimated the egg-laying hens, and the supply of broilers has been reduced less than 1/10 of 1%. Because these two separate supplies of chickens have not been equally affected, neither have their prices. And, despite the regional concentration of losses to poultry populations, the average price of eggs remained remarkably similar across US regions.
If you want to avoid getting egg on your face and, instead, rule the data roost, read on for an explanation of how we chose to present this graph: We started with the monthly data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the good eggs who bring you the CPI), but we transformed the units of the data from dollars and cents to an index with a customized base period of January 2022. This transformation really helps illuminate the differences between the two series that have occurred since January 2022.
How this graph was created: Search FRED for “Average Price: Chicken, Fresh, Whole.” Next, click the “Edit Graph” button and use the “Add Line” tab to add “Average Price: Eggs, Grade A, Large.” Last, change the units to “Index (Scale value to 100 for chosen date),” enter “2020-01-01,“ and click on “Copy to all.”
Suggested by George Fortier and Diego Mendez-Carbajo.