ELLSWORTH — Egg prices continue to rise, however one analyst says that’s due to nothing more than seasonal demand, which peaks around Easter.
The average cost of a dozen, house brand large white eggs last week was $2.42. The American’s Market Basket report records the prices of grocery staples every quarter at the Ellsworth Hannaford, Shaw’s Supermarket and Walmart and averages the prices together.
“A main important factor for high prices is the seasonal demand of eggs,” said Maro Ibarburu, an associate scientist and business analyst at the Egg Industry Center at Iowa State University. “The demand for eggs is extremely seasonal with very distinct peaks around Easter and the end of the year. Normally the price around Easter is higher than the price in October.”
Yet, retail egg prices are still high, Easter egg basket notwithstanding.
“Retail prices this year are 20 percent higher than the year before, but this is mostly explained by the very low prices we had last year (a 10-year low),” said Ibarburu. “In fact, the current retail prices are still below the 10-year average price when looking at the same month.”
Of course, there is the Maine factor. Last October in Maine, a dozen store brand, large white eggs cost $1.42. Last week, the dozen cost a dollar more — $2.42 — at local stores.
“I find it very interesting that the retail prices increased that much in Maine,” Ibarburu said. “Nationally the difference between October 2017 and February 2018, the last month with available data, for the conventional large white eggs was only 22 cents a dozen.”
Over in the meat aisle, ground beef prices are averaging $5.01 for a pound of 85 percent lean. That’s a 2 percent increase over January.
Peanut butter prices since January are up 5 percent to $2.68 for a 16.3 ounce jar of creamy Skippy.
Bread prices are up as well, 17.3 percent. A loaf of store brand white was $1.35, an increase of 20 cents a loaf over January.
But, there is good news for your checking account.
Prices for milk and butter have decreased while a box of Cheerios has remained flat at $3.15 for a 12-ounce box.
A gallon of 2 percent store brand milk has dropped 2 percent to $3.59 from $3.67 in January.
A pound of store brand butter has decreased 8 percent to $3.07 from $3.34 in January.
Ibarburu said supermarkets are “engaged in a fierce competition for customers and they are using eggs, milk and bread as loss leaders. Since these items are necessary and require consumers to frequent the store to buy them, the hope is that they will buy other goods while there.”