Economists say the overall increase in the price of eggs between March 2021 and March 2022 was "quite large" compared to the previous year, but an online rumor claiming the USDA predicted that eggs would cost $12 per dozen by fall 2022 is a fabrication.
This was not true. The USDA did not make this prediction.
We searched the USDA's website, as well as the federal agency's social media profiles, and did not find any reference to eggs supposedly costing $12 per dozen. However, we did find numerous reports about the actual cost of eggs, as well as what the agency really predicted in terms of future pricing. Ultimately, the $12 rumor alleged a price tag roughly four times bigger than the agency's genuine per-dozen forecast.
In April 2022, USDA economists Matt MacLachlan and Shayle Shagam spoke with Gary Crawford on USDA radio about egg prices. While the cost of eggs on store shelves can fluctuate on a day-to-day basis, MacLachlan said that, between March 2021 and March 2022, the overall increase in the cost of eggs was "quite large" compared to the year prior. Here's a portion of that radio segment:
CBS News reported that several factors were contributing to the rising prices. The war in Ukraine, for example, pushed up both wheat and gas prices, making egg production more expensive. An avian flu outbreak also left many farmers with fewer egg-producing birds. The news network reported:
The war in Ukraine, a major grain producer, and drought conditions in the U.S. have pushed wheat and corn prices up significantly, driving up the price of eggs 56%.
Last year, the national average of a dozen large white eggs was $1.60, according to the Department of Agriculture. Now, it's $2.50.
Livestock economist David Anderson said the worst avian flu outbreak in seven years has killed more than 20 million birds in 24 states and has chipped away at the egg supply and pushed prices up.
The USDA did not predict that the price per dozen would reach $12 by fall. Not even close. In reality, according to the latest update from the USDA's food price outlook, egg prices could increase between 19.5% and 20.5% in 2022 — raising the per-dozen price to about $2.50 to $3.
Egg Market News Reports | Agricultural Marketing Service. https://www.ams.usda.gov/market-news/egg-market-news-reports. Accessed 9 June 2022.
Rising Egg Prices Getting the Attention of Consumers and Economists. https://www.usda.gov/media/radio/daily-newsline/2022-04-14/rising-egg-prices-getting-attention-consumers-and-economists. Accessed 9 June 2022.
USDA ERS - Food Price Outlook. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/. Accessed 9 June 2022.
USDA ERS - Summary Findings. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings/. Accessed 9 June 2022.
Why Egg Prices Are Soaring. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-egg-prices-are-increasing/. Accessed 9 June 2022.