SAN ANTONIO — There is some egg-citing news or at least encouraging. New data just released Thursday showed inflation for food did increase in December 2022, but at a much lower rate than we have seen before. Yet, eggs saw one of the largest price increases last month.
Eggs are known for being a cheap source of protein --- or were until they became unaffordable for some. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows eggs prices went from $1.79 in December of 2021 to $4.25 a year later in December 2022. The big reason for the cost increase is avian flu killed many birds.
“We lost 44.3 million laying hens in 2022 because of the outbreak,” said Maro Ibarburu, a research scientist with the Egg Industry Center located at Iowa State University.
It can feel like you are paying for a dozen golden eggs these days. Yet, there are ways to save.
Buy the largest quantity of eggs you can because you will pay less per egg overall. Do not worry about them going bad, eggs last three to five weeks after purchase.
“It’s worth noting the sell-by date or best-by date, but it’s not necessarily gospel,” said Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with Dealnews.com. “It’s important to remember these aren’t expiration dates. Those are literally like the product is going to be at its freshest until this time, and then it’s probably not going to be not as good. As long as they seem okay out of the shell, they don’t smell funny or anything like that and you’re cooking them to temperature, you probably won’t have much to worry about.”
Here is how to properly store eggs to keep them fresh longer:
“Never store eggs on the refrigerator door, because this is where you have more fluctuations on the temperature when you open and close the door,” Ibarburu said. “So, try to keep them in the body of the refrigerator. Consumers should ensure that their refrigerators are at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less, slightly less. You don’t want to freeze your stuff."
Another way to extend eggs is to freeze them out of their shell according to the USDA. It is best to separate the yolks and whites before freezing. Eggs can be frozen for up to a year.
Also, use real eggs when they are the main ingredient in a meal, but cut costs by using an egg alternative for baking.
“You can find egg substitutes in the refrigerated sections at grocery stores,” Ramhold said. “Obviously, there’s also things like Just Egg, which is a plant-based alternative, but you can also look to things like flax eggs or chia eggs.”
She said to be sure to check the portions when using an egg substitute.
“They don’t necessarily translate on a one-to-one scale for everything,” Ramhold said. “I wouldn’t try getting a box of cake mix and then trying to add the equivalent of flax eggs to that. It may affect not just how it breaks up, but also how it tastes, but if you are looking for something that just needs a little bit of thickener and a binder, it may be a good alternative.”
Know eggs are still one of the most affordable proteins, even with the price increase compared to meat products.
“It’s a very high-quality protein as well,” Ibarburu said. “It’s full of amino acids. They are the building blocks for the human body. It’s a very important source of Vitamin D and calcium, too.”
Now that the holiday baking season is over the demand for eggs is decreasing and flocks are rebounding increasing the supply, eggs are expected to get cheaper. It will take a few weeks, but prices will dip.