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UPDATE: Spike in Mississippi egg prices will come, experts say

If the price of eggs at your favorite grocery in Mississippi hasn’t taken a big jump, just wait.

The Mississippi poultry industry has thus far escaped the outbreak of avian flu that has devastated flocks in the Midwest, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Forty-seven million birds have been destroyed because of the virus, with Iowa leading the way with 30.7 million.

With that many birds, including laying hens, gone, the supply has been hurt nationally.

Yet “the summertime is slow . . . for table egg demand . . . but table egg demand picks up during the holiday period. And so it is very likely that when we get into peak demand period when we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas” that prices will jump, said Tim Dawson, chief financial officer for Jackson-based Cal-Maine Foods.

An earlier version of this story erroneously said that eggs could be as much two to three months old before they reach store shelves.

Dawson said that table eggs are cooled to 39 degrees within 24 hours of being laid and are sent to  to customers on weekly orders, not weeks or months in advance.

Cal-Maine is the nation’s largest producer of in-shell egg.

Breeder-hen eggs for producing chickens can be kept longer before being put into a hatchery, but they will reach that stage in less than a week, said Dr. Tom Tabler, Mississippi State University Extension Service specialist in poultry science.

Tabler said that he thinks the worst may be over in terms of national prices.

The Midwest outbreaks have slowed considerably, he said. “The virus does not like hot, dry weather,” he said.

A spot check of the McDade’s Market this week showed its Best Choice brand large eggs selling for $2.79 and Egg-Land’s Best at $2.89. Two Krogers in the Jackson area were offering the Kroger brand at $2.49 and Egg-Land’s Best at $3.29.

Bayville, N.J.-based Urner Barry, a clearinghouse of data on the wholesale market, seemed to confirm Tabler’s expectation that the worst is over at the national level.

In the Southeast, a dozen large eggs were selling for $1.27 between April 9 and May 4 on the wholesale market, but after the outbreak was reported, the price reached a peak of $2.63 on June 8.
Yet as of Tuesday it had settled at $2.27, according to Brian Moscogiuri of Urner Barry.

Some retailers will absorb the cost, others will pass them along, Moscogiuri said.




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