How 2 Maine stores are dealing with wildly fluctuating egg prices
At Tozier’s Family Market in Brewer, egg sales have fallen by two-thirds in recent months. At an IGA in Rangeley, they sell at a normal pace to wealthier residents who have flocked there from out of state.
That can change. Prices have fallen recently but are expected to pick up again due to national factors including inflation and supply disruptions.
The biggest factor behind high prices is bird flu, which caused shortages last summer and drove up egg prices. Tozier’s customers in Brewer gasped in the aisles when they saw prices more than double earlier in the year at $1.70 per dozen large eggs, manager Dale Tozier Jr. said.
Avian flu killed 49 million birds in 46 states in 2022, about 40 million of them egg-laying birds, according to the US CDC, sending egg prices skyrocketing as production fell. Total production in December 2022 was 9.12 billion eggs, down 6 percent from the previous year, the USDA said.
The price of a dozen large brown or white eggs at Tozier’s is $4.89 this week, down well from the $6.19 just after Christmas, said Tozier, who operates four family-owned Tozier’s stores, two in Brewer and one each in Searsport and Bucksport. The store buys from the IGA dealership in New Hampshire.
Avian flu isn’t the only anomaly driving prices up. Tozier said the trucking industry is suffering from labor shortages that are affecting some deliveries and prices. Eggs from local farms cannot make up the difference as they are usually sold directly to consumers rather than supermarkets.
Tozier said customers at his store are cutting back on their purchases and looking for less expensive sources of protein as inflation drives up the prices of all foods. He said his markets have sold about two-thirds fewer eggs in recent months. He, in turn, orders fewer of them.
“Eggs aren’t in the budget right now,” Tozier said.
At the Rangeley IGA, egg prices are also lower this week, but at up to $9 a dozen, they’re a lot higher than Brewer. Assistant manager Steve Grant said wealthier tourists are still buying eggs at these prices.
None of the managers had any idea where prices would go in the future. Both were alerted by their dealers last year that prices could top $10 a dozen. You will receive updates on price trends weekly and sometimes daily.
A spokesman for Hannaford said stores are closely monitoring prices and working with suppliers to keep them low and reliable. Eggs in stores in Portland and Manchester, New Hampshire, were priced at $4.89 a dozen this week.