ELLSWORTH — Egg prices have dropped dramatically as the industry recovers from the 2015 bird flu, which affected production.
The average price of a dozen large white eggs this past week was $1.42 at Ellsworth grocery stores. That’s a 46 percent drop since last summer when eggs averaged $2.64 a dozen.
“Avian influenza — that took a lot of production capacity out of the market,” said Shelley Doak, executive director of the Maine Grocers & Food Producers Association. “There’s been a reintroduction of birds, but the export was affected. The thing about AI [avian influenza] outbreaks, the countries we export to still need eggs. So they go elsewhere. They may or may not come back.”
That’s the question, whether those countries return to U.S. eggs to fill their egg needs.
Eggs are just one grocery staple that The American records the price of quarterly. The American records the price of each at Ellsworth Hannaford, Shaw’s Supermarket and Walmart and averages the prices together.
The newspaper also records prices for peanut butter, milk, bread, ground beef, Cheerios and butter.
Ground beef prices have decreased 1 percent to $4.72 for a pound of 85/15 percent fat.
Prices for peanut butter, milk and bread increased, with peanut butter seeing the highest rise, a 9 percent increase to $2.82 for a 16-ounce jar of Skippy.
A gallon of store-brand 2 percent milk has increased 5 percent to $3.79 since the last market basket report. A loaf of store-brand white bread has increased 8 percent to $1.28 for a 16-ounce loaf.
Cheerios and butter prices are unchanged.
Looking at the year ahead, supermarket prices are expected to rise between 0.5 and 1.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.
The service said the 2016 drought in California could have large and lasting effects on fruit, vegetable, dairy and egg prices.
“The weather has a huge impact on production and overall costs going forward,” Doak said.
Particularly in Maine, where so many people come to recreate, Maine’s 353 grocery stores rely on that influx of visitors for sales.
“The weather in 2016 was a real bonus overall for our members,” Doak said. “The winter was quiet, but it was a fabulous summer and that made a difference in the marketplace.”